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Word of God More Powerful than Godless Preachers

 

"In short, wherever the Word of Christ is found and held, that is, believed, have no doubt that there the church is, even though he who administers the Sacraments and teaches the Word is godless and blasphemous; for the Word of the Lord does not return void but bears fruit, just as the rain waters the earth and makes it fruitful (Isaiah 55:10-11)."

        What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed. Ewald M. Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, III, p. 1469. Exposition of Genesis 21. Isaiah 55:10-11.

Chapter Three: Creation

and the New Creation

By the Word

 

Efficacy Denied

 

Denial of God’s Six-Day Creation can be traced directly to the loss of faith in the efficacy of God’s Word. If man denies the power of the Word alone in the Gospel, insisting that human wisdom is necessary to make the Word effective, then we can also expect that eventually the Creation of the universe by the Word will also be denied or compromised. Historically, the Calvinists denied the efficacy of the Word first and then became Unitarian as their inherent rationalism took over.

Many Christian leaders today do not make a career out of denying the Creation, but neither do they insist upon the truth of the Genesis account. Ever since the 19th century, there has been an uneasy feeling among theologians, as if Dame Science were looking over one’s shoulder and scowling. Embarrassed by the Word, Reformed leaders and crypto-Reformed Lutherans have scurried to do their homework and offer a science of Creation acceptable to the canons of our rapidly growing technology. Worst of all, the efficacious Word has been shelved in favor of that weak little product of man’s mind, Modern Science. Many believers are assaulted with seminars where some aspect of science is produced to show that the Scriptures are correct after all. “Aha!” the audience says, “We thought so. Now we know that the spontaneous formation of proteins would be nearly impossible in the primordial soup. God really did create life after all. What a relief!” A happy audience goes home from their seminar, relieved of  a generous offering but burdened by a new form of rationalism—not a belief in science—but worse, a belief in a science that will support the Word of God.

I have no scientific credentials to offer, so I cannot prove Creation to the anxious believer who takes Carl Sagen seriously. But my life-long interest in astronomy and computers has made me as skeptical about the ephemeral image of Modern Science as the current synodical leaders are about orthodox Lutheranism. Not long ago a famous astronomer, Robert Jastrow, was asked to write an essay for the Yale Divinity School periodical, Reflections. It happened that the student editor of that issue was someone who attended Notre Dame with me. I asked him, “How could you label Andromeda as a nebula when everyone has known since the 1930s that it is a galaxy?” I had a ten inch reflector telescope at the time, and I especially enjoyed viewing the Andromeda galaxy and its two companion galaxies. Good viewing nights for deep sky objects were always cold and crisp, high pressure zones that added to the exhilarating feeling of seeing millions of stars in one view. The graduate student said, “Jastrow sent us the picture and he captioned it as a nebula. We knew it was wrong, but we were not about to change it either.”

The issue of the Andromeda galaxy or nebula is small but important. Until we had telescopes large enough to resolve stars in Andromeda, all astronomers looked at it as an enormous gas cloud, a nebula rather than a galaxy full of stars. Older astronomers were used to calling Andromeda a nebula, so the caption was probably a slip based upon the early experiences of the astronomer. But the caption also reminded me that most scientists thought we were the only galaxy in the universe until 1930. I remember science lessons in the 1950s where we were told, due to a lag in education, that we were in the center of the only galaxy in the universe. We were the universe, we thought. In addition, one science textbook announced that missiles would never be sent into space, because radio signals could not travel in a vacuum. One text claimed that all coal reserves would be exhausted by the year I was in the sixth grade, even though we could smell the stink of coal still being burned in our ancient Garfield Elementary School furnace. Offended, I called these obvious errors to the attention of my long-suffering teachers, who said, “The textbooks are old and out of date.” Modern Science is not an infallible pope, so we should not be tempted into enthroning another pope, a creation science that longs to prove the Creation with facts instead of believing the Creation through the Word.

 

J-301

"For let me tell you this, even though you know it perfectly and be already master in all things, still you are daily in the dominion of the devil, who ceases neither day nor night to steal unawares upon you, to kindle in your heart unbelief and wicked thoughts against the foregoing and all the commandments. Therefore you must always have God's Word in your heart, upon your lips, and in your ears. But where the heart is idle, and the Word does not sound, he breaks in and has done the damage before we are aware. On the other hand, such is the efficacy of the Word, whenever it is seriously contemplated, heard, and used, that it is bound never to be without fruit, but always awakens new understanding, pleasure, and devoutness, and produces a pure heart and pure thoughts. For these words are not inoperative or dead, but creative, living words."

            The Large Catechism, #100, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 609. Tappert, p. 378f. Heiser, p. 175f.   

 

The Retreat from Creation

 

            Luther’s thoughts in the Book of Concord ring with the conviction of a man who lived in the Word. As we will see, his scientific knowledge was as primitive as his age, just as we are limited by our current understanding. But Luther did not subordinate his faith in the Word to his society’s knowledge of science. That attitude toward the Scriptures has changed in the last century. As I have pointed out in Liberalism: Its Cause and Cure, the Evangelicals scrambled to combine some form of Creation with the hot new theory, evolution.  Two modern examples of the retreat from Creation are quoted below. Ockenga is significant because of his pivotal role in the founding of Fuller Seminary, Christianity Today magazine, and the Billy Graham Crusades. Fuller began with a qualified stance on Biblical inerrancy and then repudiated inerrancy completely, just before the Church Growth Movement took root there. Christianity Today was begun as a conservative alternative to the weak-kneed mainline magazines of the day. Now the periodical is identical to its former journalistic opposites. Billy Graham began his career with certainty about the truth and now seems to be as agreeable about any and all beliefs as an Anglican archbishop.

 

J-302

"The evangelical believes that Christianity is intellectually defensible but the Christian cannot be obscurantist in scientific questions pertaining to the creation, the age of man, the universality of the flood and other moot Biblical questions."

Rev. Harold J. Ockenga, 12-8-57, news release quoted in William E. Ashbrook, Evangelicalism, The New Neutralism, Columbus: Calvary Bible Church, 1963, p. 8.[1]

 

Kelm has made a career in the Wisconsin Synod out of following the Ockenga agenda. Trained at Fuller Seminary, Kelm has championed the Church Growth Movement in his unique role of pastor without portfolio, but he has consistently turned down calls to serve as a mission pastor where he might put his Church Growth theories to work. WELS is quite proud of his essay, which is an unintentional self-parody of the Lutheran Church Growth Movement: “How To Make Sound Doctrine Sound Good to Mission Prospects.”[2] Kelm’s retreat on the subject of Creation is almost identical to Ockenga’s. The six-day Creation is antiquarian and not relevant, according to Kelm. If we insist on the Creation, we may lose a grip on that mission prospect. Given the assumptions of Universal Justification (see chapter five), it is not necessary to get involved in doctrinal issues with potential members. Most interesting is the revelation that discussing such topics are the equivalent of being painted into a corner. If someone does not believe in Creation or verbal inspiration, he would feel pinned down if he had to confess a faith he did not share with his fellow Lutherans. Kelm’s attitude is just the opposite of the admonition in 1 Peter 3:15.

 

J-303

"Don't let the world paint us into a corner of antiquarianism on subjects like a six-day creation or verbal inspiration."

Rev. Paul Kelm, WELS, "How to Make Sound Doctrine Sound Good to Mission Prospects," p. 13.    

 

 

KJV 1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

 

BYZ 1 Peter 3:15 ku,rion de. to.n Qeo.n a`gia,sate evn tai/j kardi,aij u`mw/n e[toimoi de. avei. pro.j avpologi,an panti. tw/| aivtou/nti u`ma/j lo,gon peri. th/j evn u`mi/n evlpi,doj meta, prau<thtoj kai, fo,bou.

 

Although I have never been in charge of evangelism for a synod or led a “spiritual renewal” effort, my 24 years of pastoral experience have shown me that all doctrinal discussions are wonderful openings for the work of the External (spoken) Word. For instance, when I was working in the front yard of the parsonage in New Ulm, two women stopped me and asked what kind of Lutheran I was. “Are you as bad as those people?” they asked, pointing toward the spire of St. Paul Lutheran Church (WELS). They won’t even pray with others.” From Kelm’s point of view, I was painted into a corner. However, from Luther’s perspective, I was given an opening for the External Word. I said, “We are worse.” Both women exclaimed, “Worse?” I then asked them, “Would you pray with someone who denied the Virgin Birth of Christ, saying in effect that you agreed He was a bastard?” They said, “No. Never.” I said, “Well, that is the issue. I have no desire to participate in a worship service with someone who denies the clear Word of God.” We discussed doctrinal matters longer and they ended up with a copy of Catholic, Lutheran, Protestant, since they wanted to know the actual differences between Roman Catholics and Lutherans.

 

J-304

"The Yahwist account of creation expresses the same conviction."

Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, #35, St. Louis: St. Louis Review, April 7, 1995, p. 8.[3]

 

J-305

"Thus, the Teaching of the Church leaves the doctrine of Evolution an open question, as long as it confines its speculations to the development, from other living matter already in existence, of the human body. (That souls are immediately created by God is a view which the Catholic faith imposes on us.) In the present state of scientific and theological opinion, this question may be legitimately canvassed by research, and by discussion between experts on both sides." 

Encyclical of Pius XII, Humani generis, August, 1950, #36. Cited in Remy Collin, Evolution, New York: Hawthorn Books, 1959, p. 117.

 

J-306

"Many Catholics hold what is known as 'moderate evolutionism,' that is, the theory that the human body evolved to a certain point from animals, and then God intervened directly and breathed into this living, animal body a human soul and so produced the first man and the first woman.  Such a theory does not seem to be contrary to Catholic teaching, and Catholics are free to hold it."

Kenneth Baker, S.J., Fundamentals of Catholicism, 3 vols., San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1982, II, p. 142.             

 

Roman Catholics have suffered from an inferiority complex quite similar to the imaginary burden of conservative Lutherans. Someone from a purely Roman Catholic parochial school background may imagine that the liberal intellectuals have a much greater grasp of the truth or at least a liberated perspective.[4] The narrowness of the parochial school experience, whether Lutheran or Roman Catholic, has made more than one person covet the expansive horizons of doctrinal apostasy.  In fact, the Creation and the Flood embarrass them, as predicted by the Scriptures.

 

KJV 2 Peter 3:4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. 5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: 6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:

 

BYZ 2 Peter 3:4 kai. le,gontej Pou/ evstin h` evpaggeli,a th/j parousi,aj auvtou/ avf h`j ga.r oi` pate,rej evkoimh,qhsan pa,nta ou[twj diame,nei avp avrch/j kti,sewj 5 lanqa,nei ga.r auvtou.j tou/to qe,lontaj o[ti ouvranoi. h=san e;kpalai kai. gh/ evx u[datoj kai. di u[datoj sunestw/sa tw/| tou/ qeou/ lo,gw| 6 di w-n o` to,te ko,smoj u[dati kataklusqei.j avpw,leto\

 

Creation from Nothing

J-307

"Creation is the external action of God by which God, seeing all other things, visible and invisible, fashioned them out of nothing with this plan of His that He might establish for Himself an eternal Church to acknowledge and praise Him and in which He might dwell forever."

David Chytraeus, A Summary of the Christian Faith (1568), trans., Richard Dinda, Decatur: Repristination Press, 1994. p. 45.

 

J-308

"I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

 

What does this mean?

 

I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my limbs, my reason, and all my senses, and still preserves them; in addition thereto, clothing and shoes, meat and drink, house and homestead, wife and children, fields, cattle, and all my goods; that He provides me richly and daily with all that I need to support this body and life, protects me from all danger, and guards me and preserves me from all evil; and all this out of pure, fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me; for all which I owe it to Him to thank, praise, serve, and obey Him. This is most certainly true."

Martin Luther, The Small Catechism, II., The Creed, #1. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis:  Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 543. Tappert, p. 345. Heiser, p. 160f.

 

J-309

"Our Churches, with common assent, do teach that the decree of the Council of Nicaea concerning the Unity of the Divine Essence and concerning the Three Persons, is true and to be believed without any doubting; that is to say, there is one Divine Essence which is called, and which is God:  eternal, without body, without parts, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness, the Maker and Preserver of all things, visible and invisible; and yet there are three Persons, of the same essence and power, who also are coeternal, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost."

Augsburg Confession, Article I, God, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis:  Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 43. Tappert, p. 27f. Heiser, p. 12.

 

J-310

"Here we could say much if we were to expatiate, how few there are that believe this article. For we all pass over it, hear it and say it, but neither see nor consider what the words teach us. For if we believed it with the heart, we would also act accordingly, and not stalk about proudly, act defiantly, and boast as though we had life, riches, power, and honor, etc., of ourselves, so that others must fear and serve us, as is the practise of the wretched, perverse world, which is drowned in blindness, and abuses all the good things and gifts of God only for its own pride, avarice, lust, and luxury, and never once regards God, so as to thank Him or acknowledge Him as Lord and Creator. Therefore, this article ought to humble and terrify us all, if we believed it. For we sin daily with eyes, ears, hands, body and soul, money and possessions, and with everything we have, especially those who even fight against the Word of God. Yet Christians have this advantage, that they acknowledge themselves in duty bound to serve God for all these things, and to be obedient to Him [which the world knows not how to do]."

Martin Luther, The Large Catechism, The Creed, #22. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis:  Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 683. Tappert, p. 412f. Heiser, p. 193.

 

J-311

"God created heaven and earth and witnessed concerning this article of creation most splendidly in Scripture and empirical data. Yet more than twenty, yes, thirty heretics are on record as having attacked this article."

Sermons of Martin Luther, The House Postils, 3 vols., ed., Eugene Klug, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1996, II, p. 22. Luke 24:13-35.

 

J-312

"Concerning this creation the Holy Scriptures teach us: that it is a work of God, which He accomplished without the co-operation or assistance of any creature, of His own free will, and solely by means of His omnipotent creative Word; a work of the one true God, a work, therefore, of the Triune God."

Heinrich Schmid, ed., The Doctrinal Theology of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, trans. Charles A. Hay, Henry E. Jacobs, Philadelphia: Lutheran Publication Society, 1889, p. 168.

 

J-313

“This day at Thy creating word

First o’er the earth the light was poured:

O Lord, this day upon us shine

And fill our souls with light divine.”

Wiilliam W. How, “This Day at Thy Creating Word,” #12, The Lutheran Hymnal, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941. Genesis 1:5.

 

A Believer in the Garden

 

The debate about Creation and evolution has usually been framed as a scientific discussion, as if one side could marshal enough facts to win the battle and convince the undecided. Few Christians have the technological training of the scientists, but obtaining doctorates in science will not advance the cause but rather increase the temptation to surrender. The believers have often crippled themselves in this arena by adopting the tools of the modern scientist while laying aside the only effective weapon of the Christian, the double-edge Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.

Nature must not be very persuasive in proving Creation, because many environmentalists worship the Creation without acknowledging the Creator.[5] Science must be even less compelling as a witness to God’s power, since many scientists live peaceful and prosperous lives without believing in God. Other scientists and professors may remain secret believers while operating successfully within a community dominated by evolution.[6]

A believer digging in his garden looks at the lowly earthworm and sees in that creature a marvel of design with a special purpose.[7] However, this is not the product of studying and deciding, but the fruit of the Spirit working through the Word. The youngest Christian child can see what the most noted scientist cannot imagine, that God created each and every living being with a special purpose, simply by His Word. Charles Darwin studied the earthworm for 40 years and published an outstanding collection of careful observations. On the HMS Beagle he saw more of this earth than many of us could afford to visit in a lifetime, but he was blind to Creation.

A believer sees the earthworm as life with a special purpose and design. If he pursues his interest, he will see that the earthworm has a number of characteristics uniquely suited to his lowly service in making the soil a fertile bed for trees and plants. The scientific literature will reveal a wealth of information about the design of the earthworm:

1)     glands to make calcium, to sweeten the soil;

2)     an all-muscle body to worm through tough layers of earth;

3)     a hardened snout to force passage through obstacles, even asphalt;

4)     bristles to propel the body in soil and withstand the vermicidal tug of hungry robins;

5)     digestive grinders to make the soil finer;

6)     primitive kidneys to add nitrogen to the soil;

7)     a digestive system that produces a gentle fertilizer, called worm castings.

In addition, the earthworm entertains heartfelt pleasure and love for the taste of decaying organic matter in the soil while meticulously avoiding living plants and their fragile root systems.[8] “Now three university studies have shown that worm-enriched composts can actually make plants grow faster.”  Ohio State expert Jim Metzger, Ph.D., said, “Even when we provided all plants with enough fertilizer for optimum growth, plants still grew better when the soil was amended with the worm compost.”[9]

As wonderful as the earthworm appears upon examination, as useful as it is in gardening, farming, fishing, and raising rabbits, the earthworm is only one small aspect of the divinely orchestrated drama of life in the ordinary garden, yard, forest, field, or farm. In this drama millions of creatures are born in abject poverty, limited by design to a thankless and minor role in life, a role so minute that most never notice it at all. Bacteria go through population explosions, only to die away from powerful enemies in the soil. Molds creep along, attacking and devouring. Sowbugs, pillbugs, springtails, millipedes, centipedes, and spiders battle for dominance, winning and losing, dying and giving life to a new generation. The larger creatures seem to win over the smaller by feeding upon the living and dead bodies of their underlings, yet the tiniest are never defeated. They win by providing or denying strength and health to the higher levels on the food-chain. The least noted creatures are the most important, because they remain the foundation of life. The absence of water stops the growth of mold and bacteria, slowing down the decay that fuels the lower levels of life. Without water, the lower forms of life die back and deny food to birds, snakes, frogs, skunks, voles, and foxes. Plants falter without water and reduce the vast supply of food required by vegetarian mammals. The mammals feed both the predators and the carrion eaters, the hawks and crows, the wolves and maggots. We look upon predators as controlling the number of rabbits, for instance. Just the opposite is true. If the rabbit population crashes, as it does from time to time, the predators are denied meat and decline in numbers in proportion to the rabbit population.

Skeptics who seldom step into the garden and care little for animals will smile at this illustration, but it shows the magnificent design of God’s Creation. The rabbit is the ultimate protein factory. Unless he is overfed by his owners, he has very little fat in his meat. He loves high nitrogen food, and that nitrogen is used to build muscles. A pet rabbit will literally turn somersaults for fresh dandelion greens and flowers, which satisfy his love for greens with the sweetness of the dandelion flower. I saw a mother rabbit rip a dandelion flower from the mouth of her daughter, then lick the daughter’s back in repentance. Rabbits eat high nitrogen greens and build high nitrogen muscles, so it is not surprising that their waste products are also exceptionally high in nitrogen. Therefore, an ideal companion for the rabbit is the earthworm. He is also muscular, loves high nitrogen food, and produces nitrogen products. Unlike the rabbit, the earthworm produces nitrogen immediately useful for plants. When God sends rain on the earth, dissolved nitrogen greens up the plants and the earthworm population expands. Moisture fosters composting and the entire growth process. Therefore, we can see the entire design of the Creation encapsulated in just one area, the use of nitrogen. Nitrogen gas is the most abundant in our atmosphere, by God’s design, since a pure oxygen atmosphere would burn our lungs and turn every spark into a raging fire. Thunderstorms bring nitrogen into the soil, which is fertilized and tunneled and sweetened by muscular earthworms. Nitrogen compounds in the soil make plants green, and the high nitrogen plants feed rabbits, who feed earthworms, who feed plants.[10]

At the epitome of Creation stands man, a paradoxical witness to God’s design and purpose. The believer views the created world around him and sees an infinite amount of complexity working in perfect harmony. If a plant is dying – a host of insects, mold, bacteria, springtails, sowbugs, and earthworms, inter alia, will turn it into food and finally into compost, to grow another plant. As one person observed, soil is not a thing but a complicated system of relationships. Likewise above ground, if a sick rabbit cries out in distress, one of many predators will end its misery and strengthen the gene-pool by eliminating the weak. The soil, the air, and the bodies of water are filled with food and predators, death being turned into life.

To say that all of Creation works together on schedule beggars the term organization. Within the celestial influences provided by the moon, stars, and magnetic poles is a complexity beyond our comprehension; within each weather system, ocean current, tidal ebb and flow; within each family, herd, grove, field, forest, stream, river, lake, and ocean; and even within each microscopic cell of every living plant and animal is the same complexity. All these systems perfectly balance one another, without the help of man. They balance each other in spite of the self-proclaimed wisdom of man, such as the time when the horribly polluted Cuyahoga River in Cleveland suddenly became pure again during a lengthy strike by steelworkers who labored on its rust-colored shores. Steel industry spokesmen had branded the Cuyahoga River permanently polluted and not worth clean-up efforts. This announcement came after the river caught on fire and was extinguished only with some effort. Nevertheless, a protracted labor strike allowed God to do what man could not imagine. Fish appeared again in the Cuyahoga River, after God cleaned it up, before and without the prayers of man.

Man’s innate organizational abilities are so limited that he has prompted a highly profitable business in scheduling. Special calendars, computer programs, and fast-talking motivational gurus try to do for man what God has done for the rest of Creation, instill a sense of purpose and priorities to get the job done quickly and efficiently. Ants and bees will rapidly build a flawless new home without thinking or holding committee meetings. A group of Christians will be lucky to build a new church in two years, after many committee meetings, lost tempers, tears and threats. The new roof will undoubtedly leak and the project will definitely exceed the budget. Man at his best, with the noblest motives, cannot accomplish a fraction of what God accomplishes on a daily basis with the lowliest creatures working together in perfect harmony.

 

J-314

"So it is with the rain from heaven, with the grain in the field and with all God's creatures. They exist in such abundance, and we are daily so overwhelmed by their abundance that we fail to see them."

 Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 130. Luke 7:11-17.

 

Nevertheless, many people can compare their fumbling efforts with the perfection of God’s Creation and yet remain indifferent, if not hostile, to an obvious conclusion: the natural world is created and managed by God. One can assail the ever-changing theories of evolution at every front, from the beginning of life itself to the wonders of the human eye, but casting doubt upon the philosophy of evolution does not by itself instill faith in God’s Creation. God Himself establishes trust in His Creation through His Word. Luther correctly stated that we must trust in the revealed Word rather than in human speculations.

 

J-315

"The commentators, with their sundry, different, and countless questions, have so confused everything in the chapter as to make it clear enough that God has reserved His exalted wisdom and the correct understanding of this chapter for Himself alone, although He has left us with this general knowledge that the world had a beginning and that it was created by God out of nothing. This general knowledge is clearly drawn from the text."

What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed. Ewald M. Plass St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, III, p. 1522. Lectures on Genesis, 1535.

 

J-316

"When Moses writes that God created heaven and earth and whatever is in them in six days, then let this period continue to have been six days, and do not venture to devise any comment according to which six days were one day. But if you cannot understand how this could have been done in six days, then grant the Holy Spirit the honor of being more learned than you are."

What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed. Ewald M. Plass, St. Louis:  Concordia Publishing House, 1959, III,  p. 1523.

Garden Seeds for Mary and Matthew

 

Every winter is a special season for gardeners, because the seed catalogues arrive by mail and fill our heads with dreams of spring. Many children like to visit a petting zoo and enjoy the small animals who tolerate children and beg for food. Gone are the days when children could visit the local seed store and see bins of seed to buy in bulk. Every container is full of livings things, these seeds, and they seem to beg for attention. When we used to stop at Teske’s in Moline, on the way home from Garfield School, we walked by the bins and plunged our fingers into the barrels full of seeds. What would it be like to plant this one or that? Each variety of seed has a different size and shape. They have an aroma and texture.

 

Below are some seeds I would plant with Mary and Matthew, two children in Iowa who loved gardening, and with Josephine and Danielle, our two granddaughters in Arkansas.

 

Cold season plants

1.     Edible pod peas. When the weather is still cold, around Ash Wednesday, as soon as snow is off the ground and the soil can be dug a little, edible pod peas are a great way to begin the garden. Peas like sweet soil and have shallow roots, so they will tolerate gravely soil. They love cold weather and lots of rain, so early planting is fun and necessary as well. It may snow on top of the newly planted peas, but they will think of the snow as a downy blanket. The snow will keep them warm and moist and soon melt away. Peas need some support, so I like to nail some chicken wire against the garage and plant peas there.  

2.     Kale. This is one vegetable which is fun to grow but not to eat. Ornamental kale will turn colors when the weather gets cold. In the summer it is green and almost immune to damage. In the fall and winter the inner leaves change color. Kale is so cold tolerant that one can harvest it green underneath a pile of snow on New Year’s Day. It is nutritious but tough to eat.

3.     Spinach and lettuce. These are seeds that can be sown like grass seed. It is easy to scratch up some soil and cast the seed over the top, then tamp it down with a rake. Both plants tolerate cold well and bolt with too much sun or heat. Bolting is going to seed, a bad thing for plants grown for their leaves. Spinach can be planted in the late fall, allowed to grow an inch tall, then covered with autumn leaves for the winter. They will survive minus 50-degree wind chill under a bed of leaves and pop up green and ready to grow in the early spring, when ice is still on the ground.[11]

 

Warm weather seeds

4.     Dill. Everyone who has tasted a dill pickle will notice the distinctive aroma of dill seed and the plant itself. Dill grows somewhat weakly from the seed packet, but seeds itself easily. Beneficial insects love dill and it is a graceful plant to enjoy. I buy huge packages of dill and sow it everywhere. Later I grab seedheads of dill to harvest seed and dip fresh tomatoes in it. Dill belongs to the family of plants holding their seeds up like little umbrellas. However, we do not try to grow its cousin, Queen Ann’s Lace, or let another cousin, carrot, go to seed.

5.     Radish. Children love to grow radishes, a pretty little root with a hot temper. All gardeners appreciate radishes because they mature in one month. The leaves pop up at once. Those who do not like the heat of the root can wait for the seed pods to form. The seed pods have a light flavor of radish but are mild. They can be used in salads.

6.     Beans. Large, smooth seeds are easy to hold and plant. Our son Martin decided that bean seeds were best delivered in bombing runs, so he dropped them from shoulder height in the hopes they would land in a furrow. They were not laser guided bombs and usually missed. Beans make very satisfying plants with lots of produce. Some adults and children like to eat the pods raw. Cooked they are far better than anything from a store or market.

a.     Bush beans. These beans grow low to the ground but produce faster than most can eat them. Children like to push their hands through the foliage and discover pods small and large. The more they pick, the more the beans flower and fruit.

b.     Pole beans. Pole beans need some support, so they make a good companion with corn, snaking up the stalks.

c.     French horticultural. These beans are very cultural with colorful markings  on the seeds and attractive pods.

d.     Scarlet runner. This variety of pole bean produces a small red flower loved by humming birds.

7.     Corn. The key to good corn is warm, fertile soil. Corn is a heavy feeder, demanding lots of soil food from its huge root system. Like pea seeds, corn begins very hard and shriveled up. I always soak the seed before planting it. An ugly necktie or old leather belt on the ground will keep birds from landing and eating the freshly planted corn seed. (Birds think a snake is guarding the corn. Move the device every day so they do not think it died.) A corn patch is prone to weeds, so pumpkins planted in the same area will fill in the lower area  with leaves and prevent weeds.

8.     Tomatoes. The tomato can be grown from seed or from seedlings. The tomato seed is invulnerable. Throw all tomato remains in the garden and see how tomatoes will volunteer in the future. Cherry tomatoes are more fun for children. They are especially sweet.

Heat Loving

9.     Sunflowers. The vitamin pill and porterhouse steak of the garden is the sunflower. No other plant has the protein, vitamins, and minerals of the sunflower. Corn is very efficient in turning solar power into food energy. Sunflowers are even more efficient. Forty-two species of birds love sunflower seeds. Monarch butterflies and bees enjoy the blooms. Leave the sunflowers alone after the seedheads are empty. The stalks will attract birds and insects, who use them as perches.

a.     Mammoth, striped, or Russian sunflowers. These are the largest sunflower seeds and also the largest sunflower plants, easily growing to nine feet tall with enormous seedheads. The seedheads will start out white underneath the compound flower and then develop the stripes.

b.     Black oil sunflowers. These seeds are often used for bird food, having a higher oil content for winter energy. The seedhead is black and the plant is much shorter. A barrel of sunflower seeds smells like honey. Squirrels will eat the flower before it turns to seed.

c.     Gourmet sunflowers. Various kinds of sunflowers are grown with different colors and multiple heads. The seeds are quite small and the plant is less intimidating in size.

d.     The sunflower fort – Children love to play in a hidden area, which can be created easily by digging around a play area and sowing abundantly with sunflower seeds. The sunflowers will grow up and hide the area, making it mysterious and fun for children, who will also enjoy the wildlife attracted to the blooms and seeds.

 

Easy Flowers

10.  Dutch white clover. I have often bought white clover to add to the lawn right before a rain storm. Clover is great for the soil and loved by bees. Pick a bouquet and smell them: just like bubble gum. Pet rabbits twitch their noses for clover.

11.  Nasturtium. The nasturtium can be planted where it will get plenty of water and sunlight. The flowers can be eaten in salad.

12.  Cosmos. These flowers grow easily in the sun.

13.  Violets. The violet family favors shade and spreads easily, so varieties of violets are good for the north side of the house. Johnnie-jump-ups are colorful and popular.

14.  Borage. We can say borage once, borage forever. This herb will sit in the sun and produce stalks of pretty blue and pink flowers, which are great for salads and quickly turn into seed for the next generation of plants. The flowers are so popular in the bee community that borage earned the nickname of “bee bread.”

15.  Queen Ann’s Lace. Did you call it a roadside weed? I call it a plant loved by beneficial insects. Wait until the flower folds into seed to harvest some. At that point it is called “bird’s nest” for its form. According to legend, Queen Ann’s Lace preserves a spot of blood where the monarch cut herself while sewing. This spot appears to attract insects, which continue to be fooled, in spite of evolution. Queen Ann’s Lace is also called wild carrot, cousin to the domesticate carrot, but has toxic roots. This flower is great in the background, stretching in the sun.

16.  Zinnias by the thousand. Buy a huge package of zinnia seeds and sow them everywhere. They are easily grown, spectacular in bloom, and loved by butterflies. Tall varieties make great cut flowers, bargain roses.

 

Seeds of Encouragement

 

J-317

“Thou who the night in prayer didst spend

And then didst Thine apostles send

And bidd’st us pray the harvest Lord

To send forth sowers of the Word,

Hear and Thy chosen servants bless

With sev’n-fold gifts of holiness.”

Christopher Wordsworth, 1862, “Thou who the night in prayer,” #493. The Lutheran Hymnal, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941. Luke 6:12ff.

 

KJV Matthew 13:3 And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow…

 

Seeds are a safe temptation for adults and children. If they go crazy with the rose catalogues, they may run up a bill for $200-300. If they buy plenty of every kind of seed they want, plus extra seeds for friends and neighbors, they will spend about $25. Parents should indulge their children in trying out as many seeds as possible. Every packet of seed is a dream, a future reality better than any photo in the catalogue. To get down on the ground and view a flower or vegetable planted months before, and to cut the flower or harvest the food—that experience is a special blessing given millions of times over by the Creator. For that reason we should buy seed in large amounts from suppliers rather than in tiny overpriced envelopes from wire display racks in stores.

People will ask the Creation gardener, “Why did you buy a pound of sunflower seeds and eight ounces of beans? How can you possibly plant 1,000 gourd seeds? Or 5,000 zinnias?” The answer is simple:

 

KJV 2 Corinthians 9:6 But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.

 

BYZ 2 Corinthians 9:6 Tou/to de, o` spei,rwn feidome,nwj feidome,nwj kai. qeri,sei kai. o` spei,rwn evp euvlogi,aij evp euvlogi,aij kai. qeri,sei.

 

The apostle Paul was not writing about gardens, but using the experience of gardeners and farmers to teach Christians about being generous. When we buy a tiny packet of seed at the store for two dollars, every single seed is worth a lot of money, so we feel pinched when burying it in the soil. The difference in cost between a small packet and one with a few ounces of seed is small. Upgrading a few ounces to a half pound is often only another dollar. When we buy seed by the ounce and pound, the cost per seed goes down dramatically, to encourage prodigal sowing and sharing with friends. It is fun to see others enjoying the same seed, new garden experiences, and bountiful harvests.

 

KJV 1 Corinthians 3:6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.

 

BYZ 1 Corinthians 3:6 evgw. evfu,teusa VApollw/j evpo,tisen avllv o` qeo.j hu;xanen\

 

Many congregations treat the Word in the same way misers garden. Every effort is pinched, as if they are looking for a good return of investment from a sweatshop operation. The Word is life-giving and powerful, capable of growing in hearts and creating an abundant harvest. We should look at God’s Word the way we look at seed, a living marvel, a daily miracle, a gift of God that gives us great satisfaction from what He alone can accomplish. More than once, someone has said, “If God does everything, why does He need us at all in spreading the Word?” The answer is that He allows us to enjoy what He accomplishes with His own power. Gardeners know the feeling. They soften the soil with a hoe, drop the seed in the furrow, water the new seeds, and harvest in a few months. What have they done in comparison with God’s effort? Seed must be alive to germinate, and man cannot create life. The soil is not only a complex set of chemicals and ingredients but also an ocean of life supporting plants. The sunlight that warms the soil and generates food energy within the plant is the product of God’s thermo-nuclear blast furnace in the sky.

 

J-318

"We plough the fields and scatter The good seed on the land,

But it is fed and watered By God's almighty hand;

He sends the snow in winter, The warmth to swell the grain,

The breezes and the sunshine and soft refreshing rain...

He only is the maker Of all things near and far;

He paints the wayside flower,

He lights the evening star;

The winds and waves obey Him, By Him the birds are fed;

Much more to us, his children, He gives our daily bread.

Refrain:

All good gifts around us Are sent from heaven above,

Then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord, For all His love."

Matthias Claudius, 1740-1815, "We Plough the Fields," #364, The Service Book and Hymnal, Philadelphia: Lutheran Church in America, 1958.

 

J-319

"Flung to the heedless winds

Or on the waters cast,

The martyrs' ashes, watched,

Shall gathered be at last.

And from that scattered dust,

Around us and abroad,

Shall spring a plenteous seed

Of witnesses for God."

Martin Luther, 1523, "Flung to the Heedless Winds," The Lutheran Hymnal, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941, Hymn #259. Acts 7:59.

 

When Christians marry and have children, they accomplish more than any evangelism committee could do in a generation. The Baptism of children is similar to the experience of having a garden. God’s Word is the seed planted by Baptism.

 

KJV 1 Peter 1:22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: 23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

 

BYZ 1 Peter 1:22 Ta.j yuca.j u`mw/n h`gniko,tej evn th/| u`pakoh/| th/j avlhqei,aj dia. Pneu,matoj eivj filadelfi,an avnupo,kriton evk kaqara/j kardi,aj avllh,louj avgaph,sate evktenw/j 23 avnagegennhme,noi ouvk evk spora/j fqarth/j avlla. avfqa,rtou dia. lo,gou zw/ntoj qeou/ kai. me,nontoj eivj to.n aivw/naÅ

 

When parents nurture what God has accomplished through the Word in Baptism, they are like gardeners who tenderly care for their seedlings. When a seed first takes root and lifts its first leaves to the sun, the plant is so fragile that any disruption can destroy it. Gardeners gently water and tend the newest plants to help them along without doing harm. It is difficult to believe that the tiny seedling will one day be a sunflower 9 feet tall with a stalk so strong that a saw is needed to take it down. When children are small, it is hard to imagine they will one day dress themselves, fix their own meals, and be tall enough to look down at their parents. Therefore, God has given parents a special blessing and responsibility in raising their children with a love for the Scriptures, a knowledge of the Savior, and faith in His atoning death and resurrection.

God has made it easy to teach children with vivid images from the Bible. Jesus taught about the Kingdom of God in parables with clear descriptions of His work. Parents can point out that Jesus Himself created those plants and animals which He used to illustrate His teachings:

 

KJV Matthew 8:20 And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

 

KJV Luke 12:27 Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

 

KJV Matthew 13:31 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: 32 Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.

 

KJV Matthew 13:33 Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.

 

KJV Matthew 15:13 But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.

 

KJV Matthew 10:29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.

 

KJV Matthew 10:16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

 

KJV Mark 6:34 And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.[12]

 

KJV Luke 15:4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?

 

KJV John 10:11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

 

KJV John 21:16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

Seed Growing Secretly

KJV Mark 4:26 And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; 27 And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. 28 For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. 29 But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.

 

BYZ Mark 4:26 Kai. e;legen Ou[twj evsti.n h` basilei,a tou/ qeou/ w`j eva,n a;nqrwpoj ba,lh| to.n spo,ron evpi. th/j gh/j 27  kai. kaqeu,dh| kai. evgei,rhtai nu,kta kai. h`me,ran kai. o` spo,roj blasta,nh| kai. mhku,nhtai w`j ouvk oi=den auvto,j 28  auvtoma,th ga.r h` gh/ karpoforei/ prw/ton co,rton ei=ta sta,cun ei=ta plh,rh si/ton evn tw/| sta,cui? 29  o[tan de. paradw/| o` karpo,j euvqe,wj avposte,llei to. dre,panon o[ti pare,sthken o` qerismo,j.

 

This little parable is unique to the Gospel of Mark, easily overlooked since we tend to look for favorite parables in Matthew, Luke, and John. When we plant our gardens we can go to sleep while thinking about this parable. We get our rest, but God is at work in nature. The garden comes alive at night. Twilight calls forth many flying insects, including mosquitoes, and God sends out bats, swallows, and purple martins to capture them. Butterflies and bees work the garden in the daylight. Moths pollinate at night. Color attracts insects during the day. White flowers bloom at night and pungent aromas send a welcome message to the moths. Soil creatures dislike sunlight, but they love the cool dampness of the night. Earthworms and sowbugs can travel without fear of the sun. Slugs, welcome or not, thrive in rotting matter and make themselves known. Garter snakes wiggle out from rocks and devour the slugs. The gardener is asleep, but the plants are not slumbering but active in growing, sending out miles of roots in every direction, building stronger leaves and stems, and stretching toward that moment when they flower and fruit. The gardener does not know how, but he realizes the plants are growing and yielding while he rests. If he goes away for a week, it is thrilling to open the fence to the backyard on returning, steal around the corner, and look at the new growth of the garden. The excitement never goes away. “We have tomatoes. Look at the beans. The corn is getting ready. Look at your roses.”

The Kingdom of God grows in the family in the same way.  As little as we know how plants grow, so the Word grows in our children. We nurture them, love them, and teach them the Word, but only God can provide the growth through the work of His Spirit in the Word. Who can guess who the next Monica might be? Mrs. Pieper was a poor widow with some sons to raise. Her station in life was very humble. She was only a dorm mother for a tiny college that no longer exists, Northwestern in Watertown, Wisconsin. One can only guess at the many ways in which her children were denied the comforts and benefits of affluence and a higher station in life. Nevertheless, three of her sons became famous Lutheran theologians. Francis was chosen to take over C. F. W. Walther’s role in the Missouri Synod, serving as seminary and synod president, writing his famous Christian Dogmatics. August taught at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary and wrote Isaiah II, his invaluable commentary on the second part of Isaiah. A third brother served as the president of the Springfield (now Ft. Wayne) seminary of the Missouri Synod. No other family has produced sons who served Lutheranism at three different seminaries.

 

Bulbs for Miranda, Robert, and Tommy

 

God has revealed His miraculous abundance in Creation not only in the variety and vitality of seeds but also in a special kind of flower, the bulb, a complete flower buried in the soil and ready to bloom in the spring. A true bulb is actually a flower ready to bloom. We tend to group bulb-like flowers together, so many flowers sold in bulb catalogues are not true bulbs, but they store food in corms or tubers and look like bulbs. I enjoy planting bulbs with children because I can assure them that they are not just planting seeds but complete flowers. Fall bulbs (hardy bulbs) are planted in the autumn and start a root system. They grow up to the level of the soil and stop, waiting for spring. Then, according to God’s timetable, they bloom, often through the snow, gather energy from the sun for the next year, and die back. Most bulbs will store up energy to multiply underground. One couple began with a few grape hyacinths and developed several drifts of thousands of flowers over the years. Their investment grew 25% compounded, year after year.

1.     Tulips. The first bulbs I would order for children in Michigan and the Midwest are Darwin tulips, 30 inches high, with egg-shaped flowers so deep in color that they stop everyone who walks by the yard. I would dig a hole for the tulips and plant crocus in the upper layer for double blooms.

2.     Crocus. Squirrels love crocus as much as I do but for a different reason. I plant them and admire the early spring blooms. Squirrels dig them up, eat them, or replant them in another area. I mulched a tree with wood shavings, forcing a panicked squirrel to dig up his stash of my crocus and bury them in another place. Crocus spring out of the winter yard and bloom before most bulbs. I have planted crocus in the lawns of many homes, where they bloom and fade away before the first mowing of grass.

3.     Daffodils. The daffodil is a good investment. A true bulb, it will produce perfect flowers and multiply underground. Animals are less likely to mess with daffodils, whose sunny flowers delight many people.

4.     Grape hyacinths. The grape hyacinth is a small bulb, an inexpensive version of the very expensive and perfumed hyacinth. The grape hyacinth is easy to plant in the upper layers of holes dug for tulips and daffodils. They have a wonderful, sweet aroma.

5.     Crown imperial. People will know when the crown imperial arrives at your home. Everyone will say, “What is that smell?” Its remarkable aroma is pungent, but not obnoxious. This elegant flower is impossible to describe but easy to grow. Many think it repels animal pests, like moles. It is also called a weeping lily for the drops that fall from the flower.

6.     Giant allium (garlic). Chives, onions, garlic, and leeks all belong to the same plant family and have similar flowers. The giant allium is a huge bulb that sends a green stalk four feet up and topped by a huge round ball of purple flowerets. I took a photograph of one stalk held by a little girl, who winced as if the globe of purple flowers towering over her might start growling.

Bulbs teach us how beautiful and complex God’s Creation is. The Holy Trinity might have commanded that all plants multiply through their seeds. In fact, bulb flowers also produce seeds. But God determined to make flowers that would form underground, loving the winter season rather than dying from the cold, glorifying the Creator with a burst of bloom at the first hint of melting snow. When we leave crocus, daffodils, allium, and crown imperials in the ground, the plants use solar energy to create new plants that can be divided and planted in another place. In time we can divide and replant hundreds of bulbs from a few. Left alone in the ground, when planted far apart, many bulbs will create their own colorful drifts to glorify God the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth.

We can receive great pleasure from a colorful bulb catalogue, especially one with glossy pages like Dutch Gardens, while we plan the next year’s effort. If the entire family joins in selecting bulbs, with a budget set, great debates can be established about the bulb plantation. Tulip fanatics will concede that their favorite bulb is expensive, tasty to animals, and likely to fade in time. “But,” they will say, “it is not spring without egg-shaped tulips. All I ask is 20-50 pink Darwins. Or maybe red this year. Or yellow. I’ll decide later.” The future certified public accountant will argue, “But Mom. I can get a 25% annual return on grape hyacinths. Sure they are small. But they are perfumed and multiply underground and by seed. I can get 100 grape hyacinths for much less than 50 tulips.” The romantic will pipe up and say, “Oh give me a drift of real hyacinths any day. OK. They cost double what a tulip costs. I know that. You told me that five times already. Yes, the first year bloom is the only good one. But I love the perfume and the beauty of that bottle brush shape. And the color! Twelve. That’s all I ask. One for each disciple. Six red and six blue. No wait. I like yellow. I’ll get back to you. Let me see the catalogue again.” The exotic bulb gardener will stare at the giant allium and the crown imperial in the catalog, portrayed in glorious color. He thinks, “No one else in town has these. I will plant some and everyone will ask me - What are those? Where did you get them?”

When we bought our new home in New Ulm, Minnesota, I brought along an old tree stump for feeding birds and squirrels. It was craggy and full of perches for birds, places to nail suet boxes for the winter. I paged through the Dutch Garden catalogue and planned, debating with myself, my wife and my mother about which bulbs to buy without the mortgage being foreclosed. Finally a plan fell into place. Fifty yellow Darwin tulips circled the tree stump. For accent, crown imperials also shared space in the circles around the central point. Crocus and daffodils occupied additional circles. When our house went on the market, the day a group of realtors trouped through the yard, most of the bulbs were in full bloom. The sight was spectacular and yet represented almost no work. I dug trenches in rich soil, plopped bulbs in their place, and filled the trenches. God provided the bulbs, the soil, the snow and rain, and the warming sunlight.

 

The Creation in Genesis

The First Day

KJV Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. 3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

 

The Second Day

6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. 7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. 8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

 

 

The Third Day

9 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. 10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good. 11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. 12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. 13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.

 

The Fourth Day

14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: 15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. 16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. 17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, 18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. 19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

 

The Fifth Day

20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. 21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. 23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

 

The Sixth Day

24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. 25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. 26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. 29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. 30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. 31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

 

The Seventh Day

KJV Genesis 2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. 3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

 

Roses for Josephine and Danielle

 

Every little girl should enjoy the finest flower in God’s Creation: the rose. This is the rose garden I have planned for our granddaughters, Josephine (age four) and Danielle (one year old), when they move into their home in Arkansas, God willing and parents permitting.

 

Dear Josie and Danielle,

I want to plant some roses for you and your mother Tammy, but we have to start with your soil. If we were in Illinois, we could take advantage of that old prairie top-soil. But Arkansas is not so blessed.

I am going to dig some deep holes in your yard before the roses arrive. I will ask your parents where they would like the roses. We want to avoid competition from thirsty tree roots. We need plenty of sun but we do not want to roast the bushes in the setting sun, against the west side of the house. So we will pick some places away from trees, on the east and south sides of your new home.

I have to dig some holes because I want your roses to grow in the best soil. They like plenty of organic material and nitrogen. If the soil is good, it will hold moisture better and transfer minerals to the bushes. Nitrogen will help the leaves. Other chemicals in the soil boost the flowers and the roots.

Did I tell you? Earthworms are being shipped to your home. I know your yard has earthworms already, but I want the hard working red wigglers to do some digging for us. When God created the universe, He designed the earthworm to build and improve the soil. The red wiggler is the best of all earthworms for this. Nothing is too good for your rose garden, Josie and Dani.

I used to order earthworms from President Jimmie Carter’s cousin. My first box of worms contained 1,000 worms in a little ball. Your dad and I spread them around the yard and put them in compost. From then on we had red wigglers all over the yard. They also worked under the rabbit cages. When your dad pulled earthworms from the compost to put under the rabbit cages, he said, “Earthworm. You are going to earthworm paradise.”

So I will have the holes dug and filled in with top-soil and manure, earthworms planted and ready to go. Then we will open up the rose boxes and get to work. I know you will want to help, Josie. When I put Bondo on my rusting Ford van, you dabbed it on with your fingers and crawled underneath to inspect your work. Dani can help with the roses, too. We will need to water them and throw soil around the bare roots.

I once asked your dad to dig a hole for me with two of his friends when he was young. They dug the hole in the yard, filled it with water and jumped in, getting themselves black with mud. They were so filthy that I had to hose them off outside on a chilly day, before they could come in and take a shower. They howled about how cold the water from the hose was. I said, “Did I ask you to fill the hole with water and jump in?” They came inside looking like drowned rats, shivering and still loaded with mud. Black footprints went downstairs to the shower.

I imagine we will get a little dirty from planting roses, but that is part of the fun.

These are some of the roses I ordered for you. Each one is a different combination of genetic material in a rose, and yet each one is a rose. God created the rose, but man has used the pollen to create many different combinations of rose characteristics: aroma, size, color, foliage, resistance to disease, petal count, and growing habit. When I grew roses in Columbus, Ohio, the neighborhood children came to get the blooms for their mothers. Each child learned to name the rose before it would be cut. The more roses I cut for their mothers, the more bloomed. Roses like to be pruned. They bloom more if they are shared with others. I know you will learn to bring them in for your mother and to share with your friends. “A shared joy is a doubled joy.”

  1. Queen Elizabeth. This is a large rose bush with perfect salmon pink flowers. Walter Lammerts, a Lutheran who believed in Creation rather than evolution, developed this variety.
  2. Fragrant Cloud. If you cut one rose and bring it into your home, you will fill a room with the scent of this flower. It blooms frequently, so the air around the bush is always perfumed.
  3. Mr. Lincoln. You will be learning about our great president, Abraham Lincoln. This rose is tall and stately, like Honest Abe. The petals are heavy and perfumed. The bush is strong and easy to grow.
  4. Double Delight. Lammerts used pollen to make the seed for Charlotte Armstrong, the grandmother of Double Delight. Double Delight is loved for its perfume and unusual coloration. Each bloom is a different combination of carmine pink, cream, and white, depending on growing conditions.
  5. Olympiad. I wanted to have a perfect, pure red rose in your yard. Olympiad is a bright red that never fades to blue (unlike Mr. Lincoln) but it has no perfume (unlike Mr. Lincoln). God does not seem to let us have all our favorite characteristics in one rose. So we have to buy a variety of roses. That is what I keep telling your grandmother when I order new bushes.
  6. Liverpool Remembers. No rose blooms faster than this one, which is orange with a silver white reverse.
  7. Tropicana. This brilliant rose will last longer in a vase than any other. The bush can become quite large in time, with giant coral blooms. Your Aunt Kris has a perfect example in St. Louis. Guess who ordered it and planted it years ago? Yes, I did. But Aunt Kris has pruned, mulched, and watered it for years. She is now considered the rose expert in her neighborhood.
  8. Crystalline. I thought you should have a perfect white rose to contrast with your red roses. This one tolerates heat well and has no imperfections. White roses have tended toward a cream color, but this one is pure, snowy white.
  9. Don Juan. This climber is the first one to have hybrid tea flowers and has the highest rating of all roses.
  10. Golden Showers. Don Juan may be highly rated, but Golden Showers was developed by Lammerts. This climber is famous for having plenty of beautiful yellow blooms.
  11. Simplicity. They were on sale again, so I bought a few more than I planned. This rose has loose pink flowers, but it needs almost no care except watering.

 

We need a few more things for the perfect rose garden. After we plant the roses, we will put garlic cloves or garlic chives in the rose beds. Members of the garlic family will improve the health of the plants and keep insects away. You can put chives in your salad. They will spread all through the rose beds. Garlic will spread too, but the bulb is harvested from time to time.

We will also cover the rose bed with mulch to keep the water in the soil. The earthworms like mulch and work better underneath a blanket of organic material. We can use grass clippings, leaves, or wood chips. In one rose garden I had Double Delight roses mulched with big wood chips. Garlic chives grew out from under the wood and bloomed. I put a few daffodils in the soil. It was fun to see the daffodils rise up and bloom, followed by the purple blooms of the chives, then the carmine and cream of the Double Delight roses.

Josie and Dani, you will need to care for your roses. I know it is a big group of plants, but you can help a lot. Roses do not belong to the cactus family. They need plenty of water, a bucketful for each plant each week. You can make sure the roses are watered when it does not rain enough. Another way to help your parents is to look for fading roses. When a rose is done blooming, it starts to make seed. That takes a lot of energy, so we cut off old blooms to make the plant grow new ones. That also makes the roots grow. You will need to let your parents prune the roses at first. Later on you can take over and be the rose experts of the family. But when people praise your roses, remind them that God created them, watered them, gave them soil, tended them with earthworms, and let you enjoy their beauty and perfume.

 

Love,

Grandpa and Grandma Jackson

 

The Biblical Witness to Creation

 

KJV Genesis 5:1 This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; 2 Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.

 

KJV Genesis 6:7 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.

 

KJV Deuteronomy 4:32 For ask now of the days that are past, which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and ask from the one side of heaven unto the other, whether there hath been any such thing as this great thing is, or hath been heard like it?

 

KJV Psalm 148:5 Let them praise the name of the LORD: for he commanded, and they were created.

 

KJV Isaiah 40:26 Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.

 

KJV Isaiah 40:28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.

 

KJV Isaiah 41:19 I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah tree, and the myrtle, and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the fir tree, and the pine, and the box tree together: 20 That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the LORD hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it.

 

KJV Isaiah 42:5 Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein:

 

KJV Isaiah 43:15 I am the LORD, your Holy One, the creator of Israel, your King.

 

KJV Isaiah 45:12 I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.

 

KJV Ecclesiastes 12:1 Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;

 

KJV Ezekiel 28:13 Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. 14 Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. 15 Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.

 

KJV Malachi 2:10 Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?

 

KJV Amos 4:13 For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, The LORD, The God of hosts, is his name.

 

 

Creation in the New Testament

 

The doctrine of Creation by the Word testifies to the unity of the Scriptures, binding the formation of the universe to the efficacious work of the Holy Spirit in calling, enlightening, sanctifying, and keeping us in the faith. Denial of one consequence of the divine Word means rejecting another. Many conservative Protestants will argue for Creation, based upon the literal truth of the Bible but will balk at the Holy Spirit working exclusively through the Word. Many Lutherans will confess their faith in the Means of Grace but clear their throats at the thought of God creating in six, 24 hour days. Some pastors are tempted to think that fashioning the world out of nothing would be easier than converting hardened sinners and intellectual scoffers to faith. Nevertheless, God accomplishes both through the Word.

One does not believe in the Gospel because someone has “proven” Creation with man’s science. The Six Day Creation does not puzzle someone who has been made a new creation through the Word, as Paul taught in 1 Thessalonians 2:13.

Genesis and John start with the same phrase, “in the beginning,” unlike any other books in the Bible. The Gospel of John was written after Matthew, Mark, and Luke, assuming the knowledge of the other three works while adding essential information and long sermons found nowhere else. The Fourth Gospel, by supplementing the Synoptic Gospels with the Johannine sermons of Christ, unites the testimony of the Evangelists while unifying the Old and New Testaments. The datum of Creation can only be understood in the light of Christ as the Word and the believer as the new creation.

The Gospel of John begins with the Logos Hymn, a simple poetic structure based upon repetition and divided by two prose sections. The Gospel of John is simple in language and grammar and also full of repetition and simple statements, yet clearly the most profound of the Four Gospels. The symbol of John is the eagle, because the Fourth Gospel soars above the rest. Each simple phrase grows in meaning as it is repeated and explained, so we are reminded of the eagle effortlessly rising on thermals.

John 1:1 reveals the complete meaning of Genesis 1:1. Jesus is the pre-existing Word, the Logos. The Father-Son relationship, so clearly taught in John (but also stated in Matthew) dominates the Creation.[13] The Father speaks and the Son is that Word. Some half-educated theologians foolishly deny the presence of the Trinity in Genesis 1, but the New Testament explains what remains mysterious to the unbeliever. The Trinity is not a construct of man, but a revelation of God. In truth, evolution is a construct of man, a philosophy that blinds wavering believers to the omnipotence and timelessness of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

 

KJV Genesis 1:3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

 

When Genesis 1 is read in the light of John 1, “God said” is more than a statement of command. The Holy Spirit reveals to us that the Son of God, the Logos, is the “said.”

 

KJV Genesis 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…

 

The special nature of the Trinity is indicated in Genesis 1:26 and impossible to deny, although the rationalist wants to divide by three and subtract one. Although the Creation itself is expressed in majestic prose in Genesis 1, John 1 illumines every verse. “He was with God” explains “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…”

 

J-320

“These are not mere sounds that Jehovah uttered, as when a man utters a command, and we hear the sound of his words. In these words and commands the Son stands revealed in His omnipotent and creative power, even as John says in v. 3: ‘All things were made by Him.’ This active, omnipotent revelation ‘in the beginning’ reveals Him as the Logos from all eternity, one with the Father and the Spirit, and yet another, namely the Son.”

            R. C. H. Lenski, John, Columbus: Lutheran Book Concern, 1931, p. 30f.

 

KJV Psalm 33:6 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.

 

KJV Psalm 107:20 He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.

 

KJV Psalm 147:15 He sendeth forth his commandment upon earth: his word runneth very swiftly.

 

Jesus is the Word of God in the Old Testament and the New Testament. In due time, the implicit became explicit.

 

KJV Hebrews 11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

 

BYZ Hebrews 11:3 Pi,stei noou/men kathrti,sqai tou.j aivw/naj r`h,mati qeou/ eivj to. mh. evk fainome,nwn ta, blepo,mena gegone,na.

 

As if in anticipation of modern man blinded by technology, the author of Hebrews stated, “Through faith we understand…” Faith is trust, and this trust provides the understanding of human reason subordinated to the Word. The true Biblical account of Creation is far from the weird and obscene illusions of the ancient pagans, the first rationalists. God completed, furnished, and equipped the vast expanses of the universe by His utterances, His Word.

 

1.     KJV Matthew 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Luke 4:4)

2.     KJV Luke 5:5 And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.

3.     KJV Ephesians 5:26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

4.     KJV Hebrews 1:3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.

5.     KJV James 1:18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. 

 

The Creation of Genesis or Romans or Hebrews or John is the same Creation, for the Bible is a perfect unity, with many human authors and historical eras, but one Holy Spirit as the inspiration for each word and verse, chapter and book. Creation by the Word unfolds and becomes even more awesome as we consider the Biblical witness. Nevertheless, the purpose of God’s Word is not to make us scientists, but to help us exclaim with the two year old girl, “Look, Grandma! Jesus made the stars!”

 

 

KJV Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

Genesis 1:3 And God said…

 

John 1:1-4

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word,

and the Word was with God,

and the Word was God.

2 The same was in the beginning with God.

3 All things were made by him;

and without him was not any thing made

that was made.

4 In him was life;

and the life was the light of men.

5 And the light shineth in darkness;

and the darkness comprehended it not.

 

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.

 

9 That was the true Light,

which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

10 He was in the world,

and the world was made by him,

and the world knew him not.

11 He came unto his own,

and his own received him not.

12 But as many as received him,

to them gave he power

to become the sons of God,

even to them that believe on his name:

13 Which were born,

not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man,

but of God.

14 And the Word was made flesh,

and dwelt among us,

(and we beheld his glory,

the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,)

full of grace and truth.

 

15 John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.

 

16 And of his fulness

have all we received,

and grace for grace.

17 For the law was given by Moses,

but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

18 No man hath seen God at any time;

the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father,

he hath declared him.

 

BYZ John 1:1 VEn avrch/| h=n o` lo,goj kai. o` lo,goj h=n pro.j to.n qeo,n kai. qeo.j h=n o` lo,goj 2  ou-toj h=n evn avrch/| pro.j to.n qeo,n 3  pa,nta di auvtou/ evge,neto kai. cwri.j auvtou/ evge,neto ouvde. e[n o] ge,gonen 4  evn auvtw/| zwh. h=n kai. h` zwh. h=n to. fw/j tw/n avnqrw,pwn\ 5  kai. to. fw/j evn th/| skoti,a| fai,nei kai. h` skoti,a auvto. ouv kate,laben 6  VEge,neto a;nqrwpoj avpestalme,noj para. qeou/ o;noma auvtw/| VIwa,nnhj\ 7  ou-toj h=lqen eivj marturi,an i[na marturh,sh| peri. tou/ fwto,j i[na pa,ntej pisteu,swsin di auvtou/ 8  ouvk h=n evkei/noj to. fw/j avll i[na marturh,sh| peri. tou/ fwto,j 9  ?Hn to. fw/j to. avlhqino,n o] fwti,zei pa,nta a;nqrwpon evrco,menon eivj to.n ko,smon 10  evn tw/| ko,smw| h=n kai. o` ko,smoj di auvtou/ evge,neto kai. o` ko,smoj auvto.n ouvk e;gnw 11  eivj ta. i;dia h=lqen kai. oi` i;dioi auvto.n ouv pare,labon 12  o[soi de. e;labon auvto,n e;dwken auvtoi/j evxousi,an te,kna qeou/ gene,sqai toi/j pisteu,ousin eivj to. o;noma auvtou/ 13  oi] ouvk evx ai`ma,twn ouvde. evk qelh,matoj sarko.j ouvde. evk qelh,matoj avndro.j avll evk qeou/ evgennh,qhsan 14  Kai. o` lo,goj sa.rx evge,neto kai. evskh,nwsen evn h`mi/n kai. evqeasa,meqa th.n do,xan auvtou/ do,xan w`j monogenou/j para. patro,j plh,rhj ca,ritoj kai. avlhqei,aj 15  VIwa,nnhj marturei/ peri. auvtou/ kai. ke,kragen le,gwn Ou-toj h=n o]n ei=pon ~O ovpi,sw mou evrco,menoj e;mprosqe,n mou ge,gonen o[ti prw/to,j mou h=n 16  kai. evk tou/ plhrw,matoj auvtou/ h`mei/j pa,ntej evla,bomen kai. ca,rin avnti. ca,ritoj\ 17  o[ti o` no,moj dia. Mwse,wj evdo,qh h` ca,rij kai. h` avlh,qeia dia. VIhsou/ Cristou/ evge,neto 18  qeo.n ouvdei.j e`w,raken pw,pote\ o` monogenh.j ui`o,j( o` w'n eivj to.n ko,lpon tou/ patro.j evkei/noj evxhgh,sato

 

Christ unifies Creation and the new creation. The Fourth Gospel begins with phrases so simple that they serve well to introduce anyone to a new language. Each  of the three clauses seems to be the ringing of a solemn bell—the Word, the Word, the Word—tolling the eternal Godhead of Christ Jesus, the foundation of the Christian faith, the cornerstone of the City of God.

 

A.    In the beginning was the Word – The Incarnation, Virgin Birth, and Two Natures are implicit in the revelation of the pre-existence of Christ, five words in Greek, six in English. Jesus, the Word, has existed from the beginning, and therefore must be God. He is also man, having Two Natures, divine and human, in one person, Christ. Far from being absent in John’s Gospel, the Virgin Birth is assumed, since it is consistent with the Two Natures united in one person.

B.    And the Word was with God – The Father/Son relationship, so clearly revealed in John’s Gospel, illuminates every passage of the Old Testament where God commands, speaks, and sends forth His Word. God speaks and the speaking is accomplished through the Word, the Son of God, co-equal in majesty.

C.    And the Word was God – On the first day of Greek class, the slowest student, using a jimmy, can determine that all denials of the divinity of Christ are utterly rejected in a few words of child-like simplicity.

 

     The Genesis commands, “and God said,” are the work of the Logos in John. The creating Word—He was in the beginning with God.


 

New Testament and Creation

 

The New Testament declares the Creation in many different contexts.

 

KJV Mark 10:6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.

 

KJV Mark 13:19 For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be.

 

KJV Acts 17:24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;

 

KJV Romans 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

 

KJV Romans 1:24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: 25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

 

KJV Romans 8:22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

 

KJV 1 Corinthians 11:9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.

 

KJV Ephesians 3:9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: 10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,

 

KJV Colossians 1:15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

 

KJV 1 Timothy 4:3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.

 

KJV 1 Peter 4:19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.

 

KJV 2 Peter 3:4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.

 

KJV Revelation 3:14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;

 

KJV Revelation 4:11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

 

KJV Revelation 10:6 And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer:

 

Creation and Faith

 

We should not be surprised that the world denies the Creation.

 

KJV Psalm 14:1   The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.

 

J-321

"Thy strong word did cleave the darkness:

At thy speaking it was done.

For created light we thank thee,

While thine ordered seasons run.

Alleluia, alleluia! Praise to thee who light dost send!

Alleluia, alleluia! Alleluia without end!

 

(v. 3) "Thy strong Word bespeaks us righteous;

Bright with thine own holiness,

Glorious now, we press toward glory,

And our lives our hopes confess..."

Martin H. Franzmann, 1907-76, "Thy Strong Word," Lutheran Worship, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1982, Hymn #328.

 

J-322

"But ye have not the power to create faith. For there is a great difference between planting and giving the growth; as Paul says to the Corinthians: 'I planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.' 1 Corinthians 3:6"

Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 362. John 20:19-31; 1 Corinthians 3:6.

 

But why would liberal (or mainline) seminary and college professors, bishops and theologians declare war against the doctrine of Creation, go to court in favor of evolution, and treat Creationists with unconcealed scorn?[14] Clearly this is not merely a scientific matter or intellectual debate but rather a doctrinal issue of the greatest importance. Lack of trust in the Six Day Creation reveals a lack of trust in Christ.

 

J-323

"The word 'came' or 'happened' to the prophets. It confronted them with irresistible force (Jeremiah 20:7-9). 'The Lord has sent a word against Jacob, and it will light upon Israel' (Isaiah 9:8) like a stone that has been thrown; today one would think of an atomic bomb. It can destroy, and it may bring rejoicing of heart (Jeremiah 15:16); in any case it is irresistible (Isaiah 55:10f.). It proceeds from eternity and will stand forever, when all earthly things have withered and faded away (Isaiah 40:8). By the power of this divine Word the heavens and the earth were created, and they are preserved to this day by the same Word. This fact gives a 'word-character' to all the universe. All things, all creatures are words of God (Luther)."

W. Echternach, "Word and Words," The Lutheran Encyclopedia, 3 vols., ed., Julius Bodensieck, Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1965, III, p. 2499.

 

J-324

"The walls of our rooms should spit upon us in contempt that we trust more in the god the moth eat and the rust corrupt, than in the God, who creates and gives all things, yea, who holds in His hand heaven and earth, and all that is in them."

Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 108. Matthew 6:24-34.

 

New Creature

 

The retreat of the mainline denominations from God’s Creation concerns the saving work of God in Christ Jesus. The new creature (new creation in many translations) is the new man or believer. God creates faith through the preaching and teaching of the Gospel, often in the visible Word of infant baptism. The rejection of the Six Day Creation—whether by stretching out the time to accommodate evolution, by adopting a theistic evolution, or by blatantly teaching the dogma of evolution—involves a subtle or obvious repudiation of the actual salvation message of the Scriptures, forgiveness through the cross of Christ.

 

J-325

"Behold this good inclination or comforting trust, or free presumption toward God, or whatever you may call it, in the Scriptures is called Christian faith and a good conscience, which man must have to be saved. But it is not obtained by human works and precepts, as we shall see in this example, and without such a heart no work is good...But here you observe what a thoroughly living and powerful thing faith is. It creates wholly a new heart, a new man, who expects all grace from God. Therefore it urges to walk, to stand, makes bold to cry and pray in every time of trouble."

Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 65f. Luke 17:11-19.

 

Galatians 6:14-15

KJV Galatians 6:14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. 15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.

 

BYZ Galatians 6:14 evmoi. de. mh. ge,noito kauca/sqai eiv mh. evn tw/| staurw/| tou/ kuri,ou h`mw/n VIhsou/ Cristou/ di ou- evmoi. ko,smoj evstau,rwtai kavgw. tw/| ko,smw| 15  evn ga.r Cristw/| VIhsou/ ou;te peritomh, ti, ivscu,ei( ou;te avkrobusti,a avlla. kainh. kti,sij.

 

J-326

"He that believes and is baptized

Shall see the Lord's salvation;

Baptized into the death of Christ,

He is a new creation.

Through Christ's redemption he shall stand

Among the glorious heavenly band

Of every tribe and nation.

 

With one accord, O God, we pray:

Grant us Thy Holy Spirit;

Look Thou on our infirmity

Through Jesus' blood and merit.

Grant us to grow in grace each day

That by this Sacrament we may Eternal life inherit."

Thomas Kingo, 1689, "He That Believes and Is Baptized" The Lutheran Hymnal, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941, Hymn #301. Mark 16:16.              

 

St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians is a brief and pointed polemic against every possible concept of salvation by the Law or by works. Consistent with the Creation of the universe by the Word of God is the creation of faith by the proclamation of God’s Word. God created ex nihilo (out of nothing) in the Six Day Creation. In the same way He creates the believer (new man or new creature) out of nothing. No transaction is involved, contrary to the claims of the non-Lutherans. Man is dead to God until the Holy Spirit creates a believer through the proclamation of the Gospel. Man has no virtue, inclination, rational decision, or disposition in his heart that qualifies him or makes him pleasing in the sight of God.

Those who compromise about the Six Day Creation of the universe through the Word of God are even less inclined to believe in or teach a greater miracle, the creation of the believer through the Word. To be taken in by the philosophy of evolution, whether diluted or straight up, the individual must imagine a virtue or inner force within the universe that causes it to develop, bring about complexities of life, and work toward a noble purpose. Not surprisingly, those who deny Creation are predisposed to see in themselves the same force they theorize for the universe, an inner goodness, although some reserve this virtue for animal and plant life alone.

The overwhelming issue for the Galatians was circumcision as a requirement for being a genuine Christian, foreshadowing centuries of legalism and works-righteousness. God spoke through Paul to reject any possible concept of an inner righteousness or spark of divinity. Therefore, circumcision is no help for salvation. Lack of circumcision is no loss, although the Judaizers scorned them. What man does is nothing. What man receives in the Gospel, as a new creation wrought by God’s Word alone, is everything.

 

2 Corinthians 5:17

KJV 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.[15]

 

Jackson Literal Translation Therefore if anyone in Christ—new Creation! The old has passed away! Behold! All things become new!

 

BYZ 2 Corinthians 5:17 w[ste ei; tij evn Cristw/| kainh. kti,sij\ ta. avrcai/a parh/lqen ivdou. ge,gonen kaina,\ ta. pa,ntaÅ

 

The literal translation is an attempt to show the sudden abruptness of the verse, a rhetorical device to emphasize the complete change caused by faith. The converted person, the new creation, is not an improved version of the old, a modification, as if God took a good man and made him better. The change is so complete that the same term for the creation of the universe is used for the believer. As we see in the King James Version, but not in the NIV, all things become new when the Word creates a believer, an eternal-life being, out of someone who was previously dead in Christ.

 

J-327

“A new creation means that ‘the old things have passed away,’ have gone para (para), have been cast ‘aside.’[16] Those are ‘the old things’ of the flesh, in which we at one time lived, which at one time were our love and our delight, which at one time filled our whole being. Paul is a master in using the singular and the plural: ‘a new creation’—now ‘the old things.’ A new unit—the entire mass of old things discarded. What would a new creation have to do with these good-for-nothing old things of the old life?”

            R. C. H. Lenski, Corinthians, Columbus: Wartburg Press, 1957, p. 1040.

 

Ephesians 2:15

KJV Ephesians 2:15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;

 

BYZ Ephesians 2:15 th,n e;cqran evn th/| sarki, auvtou/ to.n no,mon tw/n evntolw/n evn do,gmasin katargh,saj i[na tou.j du,o kti,sh| evn e`auvtw/| eivj e[na kaino.n a;nqrwpon poiw/n eivrh,nhn.

 

The immediate context of the enmity between the two consists of the enormous gulf between Jew and Gentile. Josephus recorded in his Antiquities (15, 11, 5) that a stone screen in the Temple court was inscribed to keep Gentiles out. In Christ the wall of separation between Jew and Gentile is destroyed by His crucifixion, “in His flesh,” for the sins of the world. God literally “creates in Himself one new man out of two.” The new creation is not only the believer in the sense of the individual but also the One, Holy, Christian Church. Neither Greek nor Jew, neither male nor female, neither slave nor free. (Galatians 3:28)

 

Ephesians 4:24

KJV Ephesians 4:24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

 

BYZ Ephesians 4:24 kai. evndu,sasqai to.n kaino.n a;nqrwpon to.n kata. qeo.n ktisqe,nta evn dikaiosu,nh| kai. o`sio,thti th/j avlhqei,aj.

 

The unity of the Holy Bible can be seen in the many ways God expresses the creation of the new man. Either God creates the new man, or the Scripture states that the believer himself is called a new creation. The cooperation of man in conversion from unbelief to faith in Christ, whether it is fashioned as synergism or Pelagianism, cannot be considered in harmony with the Word of God. A basic false conclusion from the Biblical witness has been drawn by the Calvinists from the omnipotence of God in creating the universe: their divorce of the Word and the Holy Spirit. The Calvinist errors accumulate with exposition, but the fundamental error comes from the separation of the Holy Spirit’s work from the efficacious Means of Grace. Conversion is attributed to the “sovereign” work of the Holy Spirit, wandering about, set free by Zwingli and Calvin from the Word and Sacraments.[17]

God’s Word creates complete confidence in salvation by glorifying in the Gospel the atoning sacrifice of Christ for the sins of the world. The contrast could not be plainer. In simple words, we are to cast off the old man and put on the new, created by God, receiving from Christ His righteousness, not ours, and true holiness, not our show of piety. The new man is created, as Lenski noted, by the grace of God rather than a footloose and double-predestinating Holy Spirit. Man can and does resist God’s grace. Man’s role in conversion is passive, but many do in fact reject and trample the Gospel they first hear and then believe. Many like King Saul grieve the Holy Spirit and become apostates, even though they continue to rule in the visible Church as synod leaders, professors, congregational presidents, and Church Growth snake-oil salesmen. One pastor left the liberal Lutheran Church in America when I did, attending classes with me at Concordia Lutheran Seminary, Ft. Wayne, and attending my installation at Shepherd of Peace Lutheran Church in Columbus, Ohio. He thought about joining the Wisconsin Synod, but he was troubled by the Six-Day Creation and the lack of women’s suffrage. Later he joined the Missouri Synod clergy. Still later he joined the United Church of Christ, repudiating whatever he confessed before, including the inerrancy of the Scriptures. He is one of many examples of clergy who express faith in the Word and then fall away.

 

Colossians 3:10

KJV Colossians 3:10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: 11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

 

BYZ Colossians 3:10 kai. evndusa,menoi to.n ne,on to.n avnakainou,menon eivj evpi,gnwsin kat eivko,na tou/ kti,santoj auvto,n 11  o[pou ouvk e;ni {Ellhn kai. VIoudai/oj peritomh. kai. avkrobusti,a ba,rbaroj Sku,qhj dou/loj evleu,qeroj avlla. ta. pa,nta kai. evn pa/sin Cristo,j.

 

Creation, the new man, and true unity are consistent themes in the Book of the Holy Spirit. The expression of “putting on the new man” or “putting on Christ” may be derived from the visual image of the baptism of adults.[18] The verb “to put on” literally means “to wear.” Baptism in the early church was reserved for Easter Sunday. Adults wore a baptismal tunic, similar to the robes worn today by opponents of infant baptism. The expression “putting on” reminds us of the alien righteousness of Christ we receive in Baptism, His covering of our sins, and our being joined with Christ.

 

The Creation of Marriage and the Family

 

What God loves, the world scorns. What God despises, the world loves. Nowhere is this doctrine more obvious today than in marriage and the family. People desire happiness, but they shun the means by which genuine happiness is obtained. Parents talk endlessly about giving their children all the advantages of life, but they seldom begin with the nurture of their immortal souls. Forgotten in all the discussions about this subject is one great fact: God created the institution of marriage by His Word. We can see the evidence of this fact in the universal practice of a man marrying a woman for life, whether this is among the least developed cultures or the most refined societies. Many people pine for a life-long relationship of love, friendship, and cooperation, blessed by the raising of children. All the ludicrous substitutions for God’s institution of marriage bear witness to the failure of man to invent a better way for adults to live and raise children than life-long marital fidelity and faithfulness to the Word. We cannot change the fact of original sin and its effects, but God has given us His wisdom in combating sinfulness and establishing a family with His blessings. If couples desire the good wishes of a marital counselor or absolution by a psychiatrist or talk-show host, then how much more valuable is the blessing of the Holy Trinity?

 

J-328

"The world says of marriage: A short joy and a long displeasure. But let it say whatever it please. Whatever God has created and wants is bound to be a mockery to it...He who is married but does not understand married life can never live in it without displeasure, trouble, and misery."

What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 885. Proverbs 18:22.

 

J-329

"Whoever intends to enter married life should do so in faith and in God's name. He should pray God that it may prosper according to His will and that marriage may not be treated as a matter of fun and folly."

What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 891. Genesis 24.

 

J-330

"This a true definition of marriage: Marriage is the God-appointed and legitimate union of man and woman in the hope of having children or at least for the purpose of avoiding fornication and sin and living to the glory of God. The ultimate purpose is to obey God, to find aid and counsel against sin; to call upon God; to seek, love, and educate children for the glory of God; to live with one's wife in the fear of God and to bear the cross; but if there are no children, nevertheless to live with one's wife in contentment; and to avoid all lewdness with others."

Martin Luther, What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 884. Genesis 24:1-4.

 

The current view of marriage is entirely material, so it cannot possibly yield anything of spiritual value, even though a type of pagan spirituality is popular today. Fueled by popular music, couples think that physical attraction is the foundation of marriage and the only reason for continuing the marital union. Given this faulty view, it is not surprising that living together in fornication is viewed by society and many clergy as perfectly acceptable. Why would adulterous clergy object to fornication? Some people try to argue against co-habitation by saying the divorce rate is higher for those who live in sin together before marriage. However, this is an erroneous argument based upon the outcome of sin, and it inadvertently supports the end justifying the means, situational ethics. The message from such an argument seems to be: Do what is ultimately good for you. The Scriptures are not a self-help book. However, God commands what is good, so faithfulness to God’s Word will always yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness in time. From a Biblical point of view, living together without marriage is the same as despising God’s Word, since God established marriage through His Word.

When another situation was brought to my attention, I visited the couple. The boyfriend was kindly and clearly loved his girlfriend and their children. I asked him about God’s Word. He said he loved God’s Word and wanted his children to love the Bible as well. I pointed out how much I admired his care for his girlfriend and children, since he supported them and lived with them, unlike many modern Lotharios. But I also told him that living together without marriage was despising God’s Word, since God created the institution of marriage. This was not the only pastoral visit or my first contact, but the effect of the Holy Spirit working through the Law was to convict the man of his unbelief in the Word. He later phoned, setting a wedding date and an appointment for membership classes to begin. The Word of God is effective, especially when pastors take the time to meet with people face to face. We all shrink from difficult situations, but that should not dissuade us from proclaiming the whole counsel of God.

 

KJV Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

 

KJV Genesis 2:23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. 24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

 

The Scriptures reveal that God uses the metaphor of marriage to describe His love and affection toward His people. In this contrary age of opposition to marriage and homage to spirituality, we should pay especially close attention to the way in which God honors marriage in the Scriptures. 

 

KJV Isaiah 62:4 Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married. 5 For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.

 

This Biblical comparison is tender and intimate, drawing a parallel between God’s love for His people and a bridegroom’s delight with his virgin bride. This should lead husbands to look upon their wives the way God views believers: patiently, eager to forgive, honoring whatever is good. Marriage is a delight when husbands and wives base their love for each other upon forgiveness rather than the Law. However, this basis for marriage is very rare. The fundamental error of our time is to deny that God created marriage as part of the civil order that governs all people.

 

J-331

"God's Word shall do it, by which all things are made, preserved and transformed; that Word which turns your water into wine, and distasteful marriage into delight. That God has instituted marriage (Genesis 2:32) the heathen and unbelievers do not know, therefore their water remains water and never becomes wine; for they feel not God's pleasure and delight in married life...."

Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 57. Second Sunday after Epiphany, John 2:1-11, Genesis 2:32.

 

J-332

"The husband should take the initiative and contribute toward keeping unity and love in the marriage relation. But he does this by using reason and not force and by letting things pass without reproving his wife. This he should do because woman is a frail creature and does not have the courage and stout heart of a man. They are easily disturbed, take something to heart quickly, and are moved to joy and sorrow sooner than men."

What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 903. 1 Peter 3:7.

 

J-333

"Of Civil Affairs they teach that lawful civil ordinances are good works of God, and that it is right for Christians to bear civil office, to sit as judges, to judge matters by the Imperial and other existing laws, to award just punishments, to engage in just wars, to serve as soldiers, to make legal contracts, to hold property, to make oath when required by the magistrates, to marry a wife, to be given in marriage."

Augsburg Confesion, XVI. #1-2. Civil Affairs. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 51. Tappert, p. 36f. Heiser, p. 14.

 

Jesus honored marriage as well, performing a miracle for the bride and groom.

 

J-334

"In the first place, it is indeed a high honor paid to married life for Christ Himself to attend this marriage, together with His mother and His disciples. Moreover, His mother is present as the one arranging the wedding, the parties married being apparently her poor relatives or neighbors, and she being compelled to act as the bride's mother; so of course, it was nothing more than a wedding, and in no way a display. For Christ lived up to His doctrine, not going to the rich, but to the poor; or, if He does go to the great and rich, He is sure to rebuke and reprove, coming away with disfavor, earning small thanks at their hands, with no thought of honoring them by a miracle as He does here."

Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, pp. 55f. Second Sunday after Epiphany John 2:1-11.

Natural Law and Marriage

 

The concept of natural law is almost lost in America, although our country was founded upon the fact of God’s Creation. In spite of the influence of rationalism and the Masonic Lodge, the authors of the Constitution assumed that right and wrong were based upon the principles instilled in the universe by the Creator. This is elementary but overlooked today, symbolized by the failure of Robert Bork in 1987 to become a Supreme Court justice. Radicals did not want the conservatism of natural law represented in future court opinions, so they treated him the way Church Growth leaders respond to faithful pastors: sliming him with every dishonest and cowardly tactic known to man. Therefore, we should not be shocked that marriage has lost its status as the foundation of society, an institution created by God and blessed by the Almighty. Instead, people view marriage as a temporary legal contract, convenient in some cases but a burden overall.

 

J-335

"Ah, dear Lord God, marriage is not something natural and physical; but it is a gift of God, the sweetest, nay, the most chaste life; it is above all celibacy. But when marriage turns out badly, it is hell."

What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 888.

 

God has established both punishment and reward within the marital state He established. It is similar to growing roses, an exciting avocation when carried out in a thoughtful way but one filled with misery and frustration when pursued in ignorance. For instance, many people have roses but fail to water, mulch, fertilize, and prune them. They are then perplexed that they have only some thorny canes with some dried up blooms on them. They see no relationship between the obstinate, pesky plants and the floral fireworks of the rose catalogue pages. When I explain that roses need a bucket of water per week for each bush, regular pruning, and rich soil, gardeners return to their yards and produce the floral displays that eluded them before.

People view marriage as punishment when they enter the estate inadvisably and irreverently. They want the trappings of a church wedding without the responsibilities of being Christians. The minister covets a fee for performing the marriage without the burden of caring for members. In a good location, he can generate as much income as a Las Vegas wedding chapel. When the husband and wife look upon marriage as an agreement that will last as long as the arrangement is agreeable, then they quickly find irritating quirks in the other person, faults they try to drive away with the law. They become alarmed with each other’s friends, irritated with each other’s relatives, and indifferent to their own children. If the thought of God crosses their minds, it is to wonder at the cruelty of the Almighty in placing such a terrible burden upon husbands and wives, to live with each other for life. More than one expert has claimed that marriage worked better in the old days, when one partner or the other died before the relationship went rancid. Using an early death as a solution for marriage typifies the wisdom of this age. Although we might think of God actively punishing a marriage based on material needs, the couple creates their own agony simply by defying the concept of natural law. Nevertheless, this is God’s punishment, to let the principles of His Creation carry out His will. In many cases, the pain is great enough for couples to ask what is wrong, to repent, and to believe in the Gospel promise of forgiveness. Then the sweetness of forgiveness and love is far greater than the bitterness of all past conflicts.

 

J-336

"For this reason there is so much care and unpleasantness in marriage to the outward man, because everything that is God's Word and work, if it is to be blessed at all, must be distasteful, bitter and burdensome to the outward man."

Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 56. John 2:1-11.

 

Since God has established marriage, it is His will to have all couples live in a relationship based upon faithfulness to each other and fidelity to the Scriptures. The most deliriously happy engagement and the most blissful marriage ceremony cannot ever overcome the problem of original sin. Even our noblest thoughts and emotions are tainted with the corruption visited upon the human race through Adam. Someone who does not know or understand the Scriptures cannot imagine this curse to be true. Unless our reliance upon the Law is constantly pounded into dust by the Word, we truly believe that law remedies will correct any problem. Thus we have an endless procession of Reformed works on marriage, classified by one wit as “Fundies in their Undies.” Statistics show that the multiplication of these books and the popularity of marital counseling have been followed by the rapid decay of marriage.

 

J-337

"It is impossible to keep peace between man and woman in family life if they do not condone and overlook each other's faults but watch everything to the smallest point. For who does not at times offend? Thus many things must be overlooked; very many things must be ignored that a peaceful relationship may exist."

What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 905.

 

Children the Blessed Fruit of Marriage

 

Another aspect of the successful attack against God’s institution of marriage reveals itself in popular attitudes toward children. We should rejoice at the birth of every baby, since God alone can create life. Too many people expose their unthankful attitudes by saying about a child, “As long as the baby is healthy…” Should we be thankful only for children in perfect health and shun those who have an illness, a handicap, or a body different from the published norms of Harvard Medical School? How mean and despicable to look down upon God’s Creation and wish for something better. God always gives people with special problems a counter-balancing special ability. In fact, He often grants far more than He takes away. Ironically, those who enjoy the greatest natural abilities often take them for granted and misuse them, allowing the sin of pride to overturn their faith and lead them into self-destructive ways. Children who grow up with severe handicaps and illnesses seldom have an opportunity to develop pride. They endure painful tests and subordinate their normal childish expectations to the demands of medical treatment. If they are limited physically, many assume they are also retarded. If they are retarded, some assume they also have no feelings to be hurt with savage jokes and cruel remarks.

 

J-338

"Children are the most delightful pledges of a loving marriage. They are the best wool on the sheep."

What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 137.

 

The vast majority of people today put all their trust in money, property, prestige, job performance, the esteem of their peers, promotions, and tangible accomplishments. To obtain these treasures they gladly sacrifice their children. I do not mean just the clergy. The laity are also guilty of the same sins against their children. The ephemeral pleasures of material rewards are not satisfying, but the woes visited by neglected children are infinite in number and hang above the heads of their parents like a perpetual dust storm, brooding, threatening, and blocking the sunshine of genuine happiness.

Once again, people create their own punishment by shunning God’s natural law. Children need their mothers when they are growing up. Although many women cannot change their circumstances and must work outside the home, most mothers gain little by employment away from their homes. They give up most of their extra income to a second car, additional clothes, restaurant bills, child care, and luxury items. They could make the same net amount by staying at home and helping their husbands’ careers, which can flourish when based upon a happy home. Speaking from experience, when my wife Chris and I both worked full-time, with our son living at his prep school, we never had a moment that was not work related. Either I was required for duties or she was, turning our lives into a seven-day week. We found this life extremely tiring, even without any extra responsibilities at home in caring for children. This stress made the life of a young mother working all day and coming home to more labor appear to me as a genuine nightmare. Working two jobs at once, we traded time for money, giving up a more relaxed life for one where we never questioned eating out or buying extra gifts. We did not see how we could add children at home to the stress of two full-time jobs.[19]

Children do need quality time. Quantity time is the true definition of quality time, and it is the greatest gift we can give them. We do not manufacture children. God gives them to us. Children are the neediest creatures in God’s Kingdom, but they are also the most giving. God made babies delightful to encourage parents in feeding, bathing, diapering, and nursing them through illnesses and heartbreaks. How bizarre to send out announcements bragging about the birth of a child, to baptize the child with the entire family present, and then to subcontract the nurture of this unique gift of God to an hourly worker! No wonder we have so many children growing up with a deep undercurrent of resentment or an indifference to everything bred by years of neglect in the name of affluence.

To fulfill God’s will in the family, the husband needs to take a leadership role in the family. This leadership is so rare that one mother was shocked to learn that the father of her children was responsible for their spiritual education, especially confirmation. This responsibility cannot be set aside without consequences.

 

J-339

"Therefore let every father of a family know that it is his duty, by the injunction and command of God, to teach these things to his children, or have them learn what they ought to know."

The Large Catechism, Sacrament of the Altar. #87. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 773. Tappert, p. 456. Heiser, p. 215.

 

J-340

"But He has given and entrusted children to us that we should train and govern them according to His will; otherwise He would have no need of father and mother. Let everyone know, therefore, that it is his duty, on peril of losing the divine favor, to bring up his children above all things in the fear and knowledge of God and, if they are talented, to let them learn and study so that they be of service wherever they are needed...And because this commandment is being disregarded, God is punishing the world so terribly that there is no discipline, order, or peace. We all complain of this state of affairs but fail to see that it is our own fault."

            What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 140f. Large Catechism. Ten Commandments.

 

J-341

"We should deal with children in such a way that they do not fear their parents, but that they know that they are offending God if they do not fear their parents."

            What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 142.

 

For Fathers Only

 

Fathers have the greatest possible opportunity to have a favorable impact on their children’s lives and future happiness. Fathers have always been and should remain the breadwinners of the family, so they do not have as much time with their children as mothers do. However, the time they spend is especially valuable for the entire family. One way to give time to all the children is to read them a story each night and lead them in their prayers. The youngest toddler loves to hear stories and reading time can extend well past the age children read to themselves. The time invested in the children will pay dividends in daily life and well into the future. Time spent with children creates trust to discuss problems that arise. Time spent is a measure of love. We have different levels of income and varying gifts, but God gives all of us the same hours in a week. The father who gives that time will have the greatest possible satisfaction, and that satisfaction will grow in time.

I had the great pleasure of reading to my son each night. At first I told him stories to send him to dreamland. Later we tried to read a Superman novel. It was badly written and boring. I said, “I will be glad to read to you, but I have to read something worthwhile, or it will bore my socks off.” He agreed and we began a series of books that included: Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer, A Connecticut Yankee, The Prince and the Pauper, The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, the Freddy the Pig series, Hardy Boys mysteries, and numerous adventure classics. In many cases we began with a briefer version of a classic and then moved to the complete edition later. When Erin Joy was a baby, she also listened to the stories and loved them. Later, when she was in the hospital, her phone listed the toll-free story hour as an emergency number.

Long ago I read about fathers sharing the interests of children, and I thought that was a good idea. When our son Martin was fascinated with a topic, we went to the stores and bought all the books we needed on the subject. The dinosaur phase not only meant buying all the plastic models, but also studying the books and visiting the museums of the East coast: Washington DC, New York City, and the Peabody in New Haven. Naturally we discussed Creation versus evolution. The two military phases involved buying the books, borrowing equipment from Uncle Allen, former Marine, assembling plastic models, and a personal tour of the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy. The map phase gathered all the National Geographic maps available from friends and relatives. We took one vacation where we visited the military tank museum of Fort Knox, the Lincoln childhood homes, and the burial site of Paul Tillich, heresiarch. We also visited the monastery of Thomas Merton, another famous adulterer and establishment hero.

When parents share the interests of the children, learning is unlimited. The parents do not need to bend to every whim of the child. They can say, “We will go to your tank museum, but you will see Lincoln’s childhood homes, too.” Most fathers will enjoy what their sons love to pursue. Normally there are areas where one teaches the other. The time and effort spent is  fun, fulfilling, and good for the future. When fathers suddenly discover they have children ready to leave home, it is a little late to start building trust and affection.

When we home-schooled our son, I began tutoring him in Latin. Together we read the entire Gospel of John in Latin, after learning the basics of the language. Later we repeated the effort in Greek, once again reading all of John in Greek. We also read Hebrews and other New Testament books in Greek. We read Jonah in Hebrew, laughing about my emphasis on guessing the meaning of words. We studied Pieper’s Dogmatics together and Walther’s Law and Gospel. Needless to say, Martin was a great help with all my publications and still helps. He also got an education in computer science and advises me in my studies.

Men who teach the Word of God to their family go against the natural impulses of the world. The opportunities in the family are endless. Children are naturally curious and eager to learn, so they want to hear about the Word and they absorb lessons readily. The Small Catechism was written expressly for the training of children by the head of the household. The father can make that responsibility seem like taking out the garbage, mowing the lawn, and cleaning the basement, or he can show his children how he delights in the teaching of God, Psalm 1. The term law should not be interpreted as only the commands of God, but as the teaching of God, because that is the meaning of the Hebrew word torah. We might translate the phrase as follows: His delight is in the doctrine of the Lord.[20]

 

KJV Psalm 1:1

Blessed is the man

that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly,

nor standeth in the way of sinners,

nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

2 But his delight is in the law [torah] of the LORD;

and in his law [torah] doth he meditate day and night.

3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water,

that bringeth forth his fruit in his season;

his leaf also shall not wither;

and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

4 The ungodly are not so:

but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.

5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,

nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

6 For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous:

but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

 

J-342

"Chastize them when they deserve it, but accompany the correction with affectionate words so that they do not become disheartened and expect nothing good from you. It is very bad if a son loves someone else more than his father. The father should give some sort of proof that there is no intention entirely to crush the child. The Law alone serves no good purpose; in fact, it is intolerable."

            What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 142. V. Dietrich, 1533. Ephesians 6:4.

 

J-343

"The first destroyers of their own children are those who neglect them and knowingly permit them to grow up without the training and admonition of the Lord. Even if they do not harm them by a bad example, they still destroy them by yielding to them. They love them too much according to the flesh and pamper them, saying: They are children, they do not understand what they are doing. And they are speaking the truth. But neither does a dog or a horse understand what it is doing. However, see how they learn to go, to come, to obey, to do and leave undone what they do not understand...These parents will, therefore, bear the sins of their children because they make these sins their own."

            What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 139. November, 1516 sermon Fourth Commandment.

 

J-344

"The apostle does not mean to say that children are not to be rebuked or beaten, but that they are to be chastised in love; but parents are not to vent their furious temper on them, unconcerned about the way to correct the error of their children. For when the spirit has been cowed, one is of no use for anything and despairs of everything, is timid is doing and undertaking everything. And, what is worse, this timidity, implanted during the tender years, can almost never thereafter be eradicated. For since they have learned to be frightened at every word of their parents, they are subsequently afraid of even a rustling leaf or a tree."

            What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 140.

 

Parents often become frustrated with the difficulty of raising their children. The cuddly baby turns into a ferocious two-year old in record time. This stage is a not a burden to be thrust onto child care providers, but a time for parents to help in a significant turning-point in the growth of a child. Children have their first impressive tantrums at the age of two (and even before), so the parents have a chance to teach their children self-control. We heard the child of one friend say in his evening prayers, “Forgive me Jesus for cying and frowing myself on the ground.” When self-control is not learned at the age of two, the tantrums are worse at age four. If the tantrums go unpunished, the teenage years turn children into angry tyrants who terrorize adults. When I was visiting an elderly person, her great-grandchild came home and announced grandly that she had told off the dean of students at her school with a stream of abuse she shared generously with me and the others. I tried to point out that being respectful would be far more fruitful, but I was talking to granite. I wondered what would happen to such a wild person.

 

J-345

"You see, then, that by nature all children are disobedient to father and mother. Therefore if a child is to honor father and mother from the bottom of its heart, as this Commandment requires, the Holy Spirit must bring this about through grace; nature is not equal to the task."

            What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 143. Exodus 20:12.

 

J-346

"Love toward their mother is not so great in children as the love of their mother toward them, as the proverb has it: Amor descendit, non ascendit, Love is a plant that grows downward rather than upward."

            What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 138.

 

We can recognize the Old Adam in our children, even when they are so-called innocent children. Our daughter Bethany blew squash all over the face of her favorite nurse and then laughed. Bethany had a sheepish grin when I asked her if she used tantrums to get her way at the nursing home. Erin Joy learned to use the medical system to her advantage as well. One time she shrieked at the top of her lungs. Five nurses raced into her room. She grinned. She was lonely and wanted some company. When our granddaughter Josephine, at age two and a half, sat on a tricycle at the mall in Mankato, I strolled along with her while she toured the Sears store. Suddenly she raced out into the mall hallway, moving with a sense of purpose. Mystified, I followed her until she completed her transit of the second hallway. Then her beloved carousel appeared, with lights and music. She steadfastly set her face toward her goal, raced through the crowd, and jumped off the tricycle, getting on the carousel before I could pay. Since I wanted to be strict with her, I limited her to eight rides. However, when I tried to take her back to a meeting place to see her parents, I witnessed the fury of a two year old.

Children always view their mother as the sole obstacle standing in the way of their happiness. Sons can be very difficult at a younger age, daughters in their teen years. Nevertheless, love is not always expressed in hugs and kisses. Children do not want to give away how much they love their parents. In time this love becomes evident and the source of enormous happiness.

     

Grandparents

 

God rewards parents by making them grandparents in due time. Being a grandparent is like riding the best roller coaster in the world, with all the thrills and none of the fears. No one has invented a drug that will generate the excitement and contentment of one tiny grandchild, boy or girl. If a pharmaceutical company could package a fraction of the power of grandchildren, they would have a nation of contented but goofy people. People are nostalgic about the thrill of falling in love for the first time. They think they cannot recapture that feeling. They are wrong. Holding grandchildren, watching them play, talking gibberish with them, blowing a paycheck on their needs and desires: all this can make all the years collapse and the happy memories flood the mind. We remember the events that led up to this happy moment, the blessings of God, the warp and woof of the family genetic code. One of the greatest blessings of God is to see our children’s children.

 

KJV Psalm 128:1

Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD;

that walketh in his ways.

2 For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be,

and it shall be well with thee.

3 Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house:

thy children like olive plants round about thy table.

4 Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed

that feareth the LORD.

5 The LORD shall bless thee out of Zion:

and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life.

6 Yea, thou shalt see thy children's children,

and peace upon Israel.

 

KJV Psalm 103:17

But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting

upon them that fear him,

and his righteousness unto children's children;

18 To such as keep his covenant,

and to those that remember his commandments to do them.

 

 

KJV Proverbs 17:6 Children's children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers.

 

 


 



[1] Ockenga is not a familiar name to most Lutherans, but he was the minister of Park Street Church, Boston, a key figure in the formation of Fuller Seminary, the Billy Graham Crusade, the National Association of Evangelicals, and Christianity Today. At the 150th anniversary of Park St. Church, speakers included the dean of the Episcopal Cathedral Church, the president of the American Unitarian Association, Dana McLean Greely; and Erwin D. Canham, editor of the Christian Science Monitor.  February 28, 1959 issue of the New Bedford, Mass, Standard-Times. Cited in William E. Ashbrook, Evangelicalism, The New Neutralism, Columbus: Calvary Bible Church, 1963, p. 9.

[2] The title is the essence of Reformed doctrine, revealing the assumption that we need to enliven the dead Word with our cleverness to make it sound good to get results.

[3] The language reflects agreement with the Documentary Hypothesis, the foundation of all destructive Biblical criticism. Briefly, the theory argues against the authorship of Moses and put forward various writers and editors: the Jahwist, the Elohist, the Deuteronomist, and the Priestly editor.

[4] Phil Donahue, Notre Dame graduate and TV host, exemplifies someone who distances himself as much as possible from his religious education.

[5] Romans 1:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen

[6] "Creationists often complain that their theories and their colleagues are discriminated against by educators...As a matter of fact, creationism should be discriminated against...No advocate of such propaganda should be trusted to teach science classes or administer science programs anywhere or under any circumstance. Moreover, if any are now doing so, they should be dismissed...In conclusion, then, I would say: yes, creationism is discriminated against, but this is precisely as it should be." John Patterson, "Do Scientists and Scholars Discriminate Unfairly Against Creationists?" Journal of the National Center for Science Education, Fall, 1978, pp. 19-20. Cited in Dr. David Menton's personal notebook.

[7] "A Chilean farm expert has a message for American farmers:  Treat soil as if it were a straw-eating animal and trade in the plows for earthworms. Otherwise, says Carlos C. Lamarca, agriculture is doomed...A good indicator of just how infertile the Palouse area [Washington state] has become, he said is the absence of earthworms in crop soil." Red Wing, MN, newspaper, (AP) "Expert:  Changes are need in U.S. tilling," April 2, 1997. Clipping donated by Pastor John Hein.

[8] More can be found on this subject in the magisterial Wormhaven Gardening Book. The author was denounced by the Matriarch of the CLC for having an “unnatural interest in angle-worms.”

[9] “Wonders of Wigglers, Earthworm Composts Can Dramatically Speed Up Seedling Growth,” Organic Gardening, May/June, 2000, p. 12.

[10] I was having lunch with some engineers from a scientific company where my wife Chris worked in Columbus. One scientist was a Mormon who enjoyed discussing technology and other topics. We talked about gardening, since I was known for bringing flowers for my wife to share with the staff. When we talked about the earthworm, he was amazed as a chemical engineer that the earthworm had little factories for making calcium to sweeten the soil. Almost all plants need sweeter soil rather than acid soil. An acidic soil will bind up nutrients while a neutral or sweet soil will release them for plants. The Mormon said, “The earthworm can make calcium? I wonder why!” I said, “Because God created them that way.” The engineer immediately stopped talking, and I realized that the Mormons have no concept of Creation, since they imagine themselves turning into gods in the afterlife.

[11] I did this before one of Minnesota’s worst winters. All winter a gardener said to me, “That spinach is dead. You could do it in Michigan, but this is Minnesota.” The spinach was abundant and delicious, free of insect damage, plump and crunchy with moisture from snow and rain. Ice still stuck the autumn leaves to the ground in some places when I lifted up the soggy blanket and revealed the living spinach plants.

[12] KJV 1 Peter 2:25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

[13]  Matthew 11:27 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. Liberals are dumb-struck that a statement so typical of John’s Gospel could be found in Matthew, ignoring the obvious solution, that both Gospels are accurate in all details while differing in style.

[14] The mainline or liberal denominations are usually defined by their membership in the radical National Council of Churches and the Word Council of Churches. The differences between the liberal denominations and their conservative counterparts are diminishing because of unionism and the malignant influence of Fuller Seminary, which has done a remarkable job in creating a lack of trust in the efficacy of the Word and the inerrancy of the Scriptures.

[15] Note the omission of “all” in the NIV and its Greek text: NIV 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” GNT 2 Corinthians 5:17 w[ste ei; tij evn Cristw/|( kainh. kti,sij\ ta. avrcai/a parh/lqen( ivdou. ge,gonen kaina,\ This particular example convinced me to use the Byzantine Greek text throughout the book.

[16] The prefix in the Greek verb means “aside.” Lenski is emphasizing the old things being thrown away.

[17] References to the “Sovereign Lord” may seem innocent to most people, but they reflect this false concept of the Holy Spirit working apart from the Word and Sacraments. Lutherans should pointedly avoid the term and explain its implications to the uninformed, such as confirmands and synodical officials.

[18] Romans 13:14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. Galatians 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

[19] My wife worked as a teacher, part-time, every so often, mostly as a substitute. Anyone can work out of the home today and earn additional income. However, this requires the help of the husband.

[20] The word doctor does not mean physician but teacher. In the past all medical degrees were considered a first professional degree, a bachelor’s of medicine. The physicians decided to call themselves doctors of medicine. (Ministers followed by calling themselves Masters of Divinity. If they get an easy degree at Fuller, they call themselves a Doctor of Ministry, but no one accepts a D. Min. as an academic degree. Nevertheless every D. Min. from Fuller bills himself as Dr. So and So.